Archive for the ‘motorcycle touring’ Category

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We pulled out of our driveway on a cool, crisp Friday morning for a long weekend motorcycle ride.  By cool & crisp I mean 51 degrees Fahrenheit, a little less with wind chill, of course. We knew it was going to be at least that or a bit less on Skyline Drive.

We had decked ourselves out in appropriate clothing and closed the vents of the Harley Davidson Ultra Limited, so the chill was not very noticeable. Otherwise, the sun was out with blue sky all about and traffic out of town was quite light.

It took us about an hour to get from home to the northern terminus of Skyline Drive in Front Royal, Virginia. I really think that the state could do a bit better job of signage to get people to the park.  I knew where it was but, until you are right upon it the signs are few and far between.

A lot of motorcycles on the road!

Once we were on Skyline Drive the cool air got a bit cooler! There was nearly a 10-degree difference from the valley to the top of the mountain.  While we did notice it, and I turned on the heated grips, the motorcycle seemed to love the cool air and purred as it rolled up, down and around the ridge.

The leaves had not yet started to change colors or drop from the trees, but the greens were awesome to view. I do have another complaint, maybe it is a by-product of Covid 2020 but several of the overlooks really did not overlook.  The trees and bush build up limited the view on some of the stops.   Only a minor disappointment as the day was so nice!

We reached the southern terminus of the parkway late afternoon and headed to our hotel in Charlottesville, VA. The next day we went to some local site like Monticello. Our return tip was via the American BywayJourney Through Hallowed Ground Byway”, which will be documented on another post.

It was our anniversary by the way!

Skyline Drive by motorcycle really shows that the adage “Riding in car is like watching a movie. Riding on a motorcycle is like being in the movie” is absolutely true.

If you live on the east coast this ride needs to be on your bucket list.

Ride On, Ride Safe

I really enjoyed the films “Long way Down” and “Long Way Round”. The movies chronicled Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor motorcycle adventures.

If you did not know there is a new one which follows them from Patagonia, Argentina 13,000 miles to Los Angeles in the US. This time they ditched their BMW motorcycles for the new electric Harley Davidson “Live Wire”.

The Live Wire motorcycles were modified for off-road use and their trip was supported by all-electric Rivian trucks. These trucks were more proto-type then production according to the trailer.

Long Way Up is coming out on Apple TV. Sigh I don’t have Apple TV so I will have to wait until it comes out on another service as I am not spending any more money on TV.

Beer is a very dangerous thing isn’t it.

For sure it has the ability to dull the senses, but it can also open up a world of free thinking.

sam-manicom-banner-aug18v5

I’m often asked what it was that started me down the road on what turned out to be an eight year motorcycle journey around the world. Perhaps I should be red-faced about this, but as it’s the truth and it led to so much fun, some excellent challenges and so many opportunities to learn, I’m not embarrassed at all. The idea started in drunken moment in a bar on the tiny Channel Island of Jersey!

I was working on the island, which is tucked in the English Channel between the UK and France, and I following a career path, as you are supposed to do as an adult. I’ve travelled a lot during my life but had eventually settled down, thinking that perhaps it was time to grow up and to be sensible. After all, we are supposed to feather our nests for old age aren’t we. Besides that, developing a career was going to be a new challenge. I’d not really done it before, so why not see what it was all about.

I surprised myself at how well I did in my retail manager role. Taken on as a very junior manager, I advanced fairly rapidly through the ranks and had all the trappings of life that one is supposed to have with success. An apartment, a sports car, holidays abroad and so on. I think the keys were that people matter to me, I’m fairly organized, I find it easy to respect the people I’m working with, and I liked looking after customers.

My staff and I had fun and we were successful. The Jersey shop was the number five store out of scores of branches throughout the UK, but there was something missing. I had itchy feet, and the itch was increasing dramatically each week, but I worked on, telling myself that bunking off on another long trip was irresponsible. After all, I was 34; supposedly at the peak of my professional career.

One night in the pub over a bit of a solo celebration when the beers were slipping down rather wonderfully, my thoughts had turned to the itch. By the time I’d made it to the 4th beer I’d realized two important points. Other than work, I had absolutely no responsibilities, and I had savings. What a brilliant combination.

The next beer slipped down dangerously and I started to ponder that call of the road. Perhaps I should push off on a new adventure. Would I ever be in this position of potential freedom again? I’d be giving up a lot though…

I was born and brought up in the Belgian Congo in Central West Africa. I was 10 years SM 9old when my parents decided that it was time to take my sisters and me to live in the UK. I think that was a really hard decision for them. Life had revolved around their work in the Congo for so many years. It certainly was odd for me to go from my usual attire of a pair of shorts and a great tan, to wearing full English school uniform; even a tie and a cap! I was known as Jungle Boy for quite a few years as I came to terms with life in England. I must have been quite a strange little lad as far as the other kids were concerned. A python? So what. But apples, chocolate bars and the Beatles? All new to me.

I made my first solo trip as a foray into mainland Europe, age 16. I rode a brand new bicycle, that I’d worked doing odd jobs to save the money for. That first trip taught me that destinations don’t matter, other than as a plan. What matters is that you go, and that you appreciate the things and people you see and get involved with along the way. Back then I’d no idea that this was going to turn into a plan for life; value the moments.

On finishing school age 18, I’d no idea what I was going to do. Having been to multiple schools, and spent most of my time trying to fit in with each new environment, plus of course buzzing around on the sports field, my grades weren’t very good. University was out! I chose to work a retail management training course for three years with one of the UK’s leading department stores.

Of course, at the time I’d no idea how much the training, new skills and character building would stand me in good stead. I probably couldn’t successfully do what I do now had it not been for all of the training that was involved in those teen years.

Sm 11At the end of those three years, the open road was calling and I set off to spend a year hitch hiking around Europe. With that trip, life changed. It wasn’t hard to make this become a way of living. Work and travel; sometimes combining both. Many of the jobs were basic and low wage, but with each new job I learnt; about the role itself, myself, and the country I was in. I travelled as far as India and Australia. Over the next years I hitch-hiked, bused, trained, hiked, sailed and had a go at every form of getting around that I could.

And then the career in retail management took over. The trouble was, at no time in my life had I felt as alive, as challenged, as amazed, as delighted and at times frightened, as when I was on the move in some different land. One of my favorite sayings is ‘Become a stranger in a strange land’.

As I was sitting drinking those beers in the Jersey pub, that saying was in my mind. I started to ponder the possibilities; where to go and how to go? What didn’t I like about the other ways I’d travelled? I loved hitch-hiking but I’d done that a lot. So what’s new? I’d really enjoyed the pace and challenge of bicycling, but those head winds weren’t something I looked forward to. I also knew that I wanted the ability to cover more ground in whatever time I could make available. Cycling was out then, and so was travelling by bus or by train. Unable to stop on previous trips, I’d zipped on past things, people and places that had looked interesting.

My beery brain was hunting for a new way to travel. A way to solve the issues I was identifying, and give me new things to learn. Slowly my mind worked around to travelling by motorcycle. I knew I wanted to travel through Africa too. I wanted to see if my childhood memories about how things sound smelt and tasted were true. The only problem was, I didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle!

I handed in my notice at work the next morning. I had a bit of a hangover but I was convinced that I was doing the right thing. I then bought myself a little 125cc trail bike to learn on, and passed my test 6 weeks later. It wasn’t long before I’d made it to the edge of the Sahara. Sitting on my 800cc BMW motorcycle, I looked south over the Egyptian sands and contemplated the point that quite likely I was a complete idiot! I mean, ride a motorcycle through Africa with just a few months experience? For sure I was incompetent and perhaps quite mad, but it was too late; I was there. And anyway, I’d told my mates in the pub what I was doing. I couldn’t deal with the loss of face if I turned back without even trying.

sm 6So the journey through Africa began. The original plan, if I dare call it that with things happening at such a pace, was to ride through West Africa. Just as I passed my motorcycle test, things went politically pear-shaped in Algeria, and all the borders in that part of Africa closed. No one had the remotest idea how long this situation was going to continue; my heart had sunk. But I started to look for a plan B – I had a ticking clock in my mind. Because of the terrain and the extreme temperatures, there are only certain months of the year when it’s sane to travel across the Sahara. If I didn’t crack on I’d lose the opportunity.

The alternative route was through East Africa. The problem there was that Sudan had a North to South civil war going on, and Ethiopia had been at war within itself for the past 20 years. On the up side, some people were getting visas for Sudan, and the war in Ethiopia was just coming to an end. With nothing to lose, I set off with new rough plans in mind; I might as well try. After all, I’d given up my job, and sold just about everything I owned. What hadn’t occurred to me was that Mike, and Sally, who I’d met on the way, and I were to be the first people to ride motorcycles North to South through Sudan and Ethiopia for those 20 years. We’d struck it lucky. A window of opportunity had opened.

This was 1992. No Google, no GPS, no cell phones and no digital photography. If you wanted to find something out you went to the library or wrote letters. If you wanted to find the way, you hunted out the best maps you could, and you asked for directions. Getting lost was a part of the journey, and instead of being a negative it simply opened up a world of the unexpected. I still believe that some of the best adventures happen on a road you hadn’t planned to be travelling.

19 fascinating countries and a year later, I decided that actually there was no good sm 10reason to head for home. There were plenty of reasons to carry on though. Travelling by motorcycle, in spite of being thrown in prison in Tanzania and 17 bone fractures in the desert in Namibia, was more than fulfilling my beery thoughts in the pub. Another favorite saying is ‘Stop worrying about the potholes and celebrate the journey’.

I booked passage for my bike and I to sail on a container ship across the Indian Ocean to Australia. And so, what turned out to be the eight year journey around the world had begun. My motorcycle is called Libby. That’s short for Liberty; it’s what she gives me. All these years later, she’s still my only means of transport in the UK. She does now have a younger sister getting me around in the USA on trips there. A 2013 BMW F800GS. That bike is called ‘Lucky’. For sure I know how lucky I am to have her, and the opportunity to explore more of the amazing land that is the USA.

I think of myself as being a bit of an accidental author. I didn’t set out on my journey with the aim of writing magazine articles or books. With enthusiastic encouragement from others I thought I’d have a go. I’d kept a journal every day, so I had the facts and many of the descriptions. Long term travelers learn quickly about the risk of being on intake overload each day; it’s so easy to forget the dates, statistics, sights, sounds, smells, names and so on. The drama and the funny side to life do tend to stay in one’s mind though.

Seeing if I could write a book would be a new adventure. I was putting in 10-12 hour days working renovating semi-derelict houses and then after a quick shower and some food, I sat down to write. It took me two years. Learning everything about the publishing and print industries was been a side fascination, and I’ll never forget the sensation of having my first printed copy in my hand; it’s a wonderful moment. I certainly didn’t expect the 5 star reviews my books have been collecting from kind readers and media reviewers.

sm 8What next? More travels but in shorter stints; I need just enough to keep scratching that itch and to give me material to write travel articles. I also send a fair bit of time doing travel presentations and book signings at motorcycle dealerships, libraries, clubs, schools and businesses. They are my opportunity to share the fun of the road, and perhaps even encourage others to head out and to explore for themselves.

I’m keen that people really think about life, recognize the opportunities as they occur, and take advantage of them. This is such an invigorating thing, both at work and play. I fully accept that many people have responsibilities that will not allow them to head out into the blue for months even years at a time and I really value being around people like that who are accepting their responsibilities and making life zing as much as they can. I love it when people say such things as, “I’d love to travel, but I can’t, yet.” Adventures begin with dreams.

Each of the four books takes the reader riding and exploring through a different section SM 7of the eight year journey and thankfully people seem to like them. I think of my books as being a way to share the fun of the open road with those who for the moment can’t head out on a long trip. With those who really don’t want to travel but love to read about it, and also as encouragement to those who think they don’t have the skills to travel in this way. I had few skills when I started, but I had an open mind, a strong curiosity, and an understanding of the value of respect. I’ve got a positive attitude too. It’s a great world and travelling by motorcycle, to my mind, is a superb way to see it.

 

Sam’s Books

Sm 13Into Africa Takes the reader on that first eye-opening year through the incredible continent that is Africa. There are challenges a plenty; it’s a genuine tale of the unexpected. Woven into this journey between Cairo and Cape Town are the riding, the people, wildlife, history, the disasters and the silver linings; there’s plenty of humor too.

Overland Magazine: ‘The word-pictures that bring a good travel book to life are all here; Sam’s perceptions of people, places and predicaments have real depth and texture, their associated sights, smells and sounds are evoked with a natural ease. Where other author’s detailed descriptions can sometimes get in the way, Sam’s style is engaging and well-tuned. I found myself in the midst of action rather than a mere fly on the wall.’

 

sm 1Under Asian Skies This is the story of just nearly 3 years travelling from Australia and New Zealand, up through SE Asia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and through Eastern Europe. This without doubt is the most colorful and culturally diverse part of the world I’ve been lucky enough to ride. Every day was an adventure.

Horizons Unlimited: ‘Sam has the skills of the story teller and this book easily transports you into three years of journey across Asia. He manages to bring the sounds, scents and heat of Asia to life without wordy overkill and he has obviously researched his historical facts carefully. In places Under Asian Skies is sad, and in others it’s outrageously funny – look out for his battle with the Sydney port officials and the bus ride in Indonesia. All in all this is a really good read, whether you have been across Asia, or are planning a trip. This is true travelling on the cheap and not your everyday story.’

SM 2Distant Suns My third book has me linking up with a German lass in New Zealand. Birgit agreed to ride with me, but to Africa first, and on her own bike. She rode out of Mombasa harbor in Kenya with just 600 miles of experience on a motorcycle! Over the next 3 years we rode together through Africa, and on up through South and Central America. These continents may be on the same latitude, but the contrasts in landscape, cultures and the peoples are huge. The Andes? Simply stunning. Oh and I’d not told Birgit what a disaster magnet I am!

Motorcycle Explorer: ‘An epic ride that almost becomes secondary to the events that happen and the very human element of travelling. Sam never forgets to use his five senses in his tales; leaving you immersed in the sights, sounds, touch, smell and taste of a journey of true human discovery.’

 

Layout 1Tortillas to Totems: This book takes you travelling with us through the 3 countries that make up North America. Three neighbors that are so wonderfully different to each other, make travelling this part of the world a delight. North America was in fact the part of the world that surprised me the most. When you read this book you’ll find out all the reasons why I keep coming back.

ADVMoto Magazine: ‘What I enjoy most about Sam’s method is his way of describing the moment. You feel it, smell it… you freeze, you sweat, and you see what’s before him like you’re along for the ride. You are very much there. It’s a rather intimate, honest style that easily carries you from chapter-to-chapter. I highly recommend that you add Sam’s books to your reading list.’

About the Author: Sam Manicom travelled the world on his trusty 1992 BMW R80GS, with his partner Birgit on her 1971 BMW R60/5.

He has been writing for various magazines around the world since 1996. Those titles include: Motorcycle Sport & Leisure, Adventure Bike Rider, Motorcycle Voyager, Canadian Biker, Motorcycle Monthly, Motociclisimo, Motorcycle Explorer, Australian Road Rider, MCN and ADVMoto Magazine.

He is the author of 4 acclaimed motorcycle travel books. His first book was written as a result of readers’ letters to editors. ‘We like Sam’s articles. When’s he going to write a book?’  Until that time he’d been travelling with just new adventures in mind.

Signed copies are available from Sam-Manicom.com with free UK delivery, and with free Worldwide delivery via the Book Depository.com https://www.bookdepository.com/author/Sam-Manicom

Sam’s 4 books are also available for download as Kindles and as Audiobooks. Sam narrates the books himself.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kindle-Store-Sam-Manicom/s?rh=n%3A341677031%2Cp_27%3ASam+Manicom

https://www.audible.co.uk/search?searchNarrator=Sam+Manicom

https://books.apple.com/us/author/sam-manicom/id516565970

Facebook – Catch up with Sam via his two pages: Sam Manicom and Adventure Motorcycle Travel Books by Sam Manicom.

Twitter – You’ll find him on @SamManicom

Instagram – sammanicom.author

Website – If you’d like to learn more about his books and his presentation schedule please go to www.sam-manicom.com

Sam is Co-Host of Adventure Rider Radio RAW show. Hosted by Jim Martin, the show is recorded monthly with a panel of 5 highly experienced overlanders from around the world. Listeners submit topics for discussion. RAW has been described by listeners as akin to sitting around a giant kitchen table with the team, beers, wine and coffee in hand, discussing motorcycles and travel; there’s controversy, challenging ideas, top tips and plenty of banter!

https://adventureriderradio.com/arr-raw/

Sam says, “If you are a You Tube fan, have a hunt. There are various riding and interview clips to be found, including a recent chat with the phenomenal Ted Simon.”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-658_CSkrA

He was the first Overlander Interviewed by Adventure Bike TV for their popular ‘Under the Visor’ series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bToV6paAEXM

In 2017 Overland Magazine awarded him the Roho Ya Kusafiri Spirit of Travel’ award for his contribution to Overland and Adventure Travel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1Y1BKPbp_Y

Spring is springing! Your motorcycle is calling you! Your friends are tired of hearing you say, “I just want 2 ride!”. But before you hit the road you should perform a few tasks to make sure you are safe, and the bike is prepared for the riding season.

b4I am going to avoid some of the more obvious stuff like T-CLOCS and try to hit the things you might have overlooked or not thought about. Of course, you REALLY should do the T-CLOCS, with a much detail as possible, but there are dozens of articles out there about those tasks.

Sooooo, what makes my list of things to prepare for riding season.

1 Check your gear – Your riding gear has been setting around as long as your bike. It might have been stuffed in your saddleback for months. Get your gear out and clean it up. Run it through the wash or clean it by hand. Apply water repellant or waterproofing after you have cleaned your gear for a little more protection, unless a rainstorm is your preferred method of cleaning your gear.

2 Check your helmet – Yes, your helmet is part of your gear, but I am calling it out separately as it deserves special attention. First clean the exterior, those bugs from 2019 should be dry and easy to remove by now. Next remove and clean the interior padding, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Also, check out all the nooks and crannies for SPIDERS (and not the Can-Am species by the way).

3 Replace Gear – I know that many of you, just like me, try and stretch your money as far as possible but now is a good time to take a good look at your own gear. While this is really an inherent subtask of the first two items on the list, I wanted to call it out as YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY. Is your helmet still good to go, are your gloves still in good condition? If something is not right, then get it repaired or replaced before the season gets into 5th

4 Give your motorcycle a colonoscopy – If you did not do a good job preparing your bike for winter you should peek up your tail pipe. It is not uncommon for “critters” to climb into the exhaust to hide food or make a nest.

5 Give your bike a rub down – Happy ending optional. Give it a good wipe down to clean off the dust and debris that has adhered to your bike over winter. This way you might avoid the stinky smells from all the dust and dirt burning off as the engine heats up.

6 Restock your saddlebags – If you pack a first aid kit replace what you used last year or what is now expired. Sunscreen and chapstick….might what to swap them out for new. That candy bar you had for an emergency snack go ahead and eat it now and put a new one in its place.

7 Review the owner’s manual – Get yourself reacquainted with the bike.

8 Check your insurance – Did you stop or reduce your insurance on the motorcycle over the winter? Give a quick call to your agent to get your insurance up to date.

9 Remind yourself about PANIC STOPS – Find an unused bit of road or parking lot, get up to speed and BREAK HARD! Get that feeling on what you and your motorcycle will do when you must do a sudden stop. Often ride with a passenger? Then run this exercise with them on the bike as well. It is best to know how it feels in a controlled environment before you really need to do it. OH, check your breaks before you do this to make sure they are good to go.

ijustwant2ride

 

Riding your motorcycle in the fall can be a fun, pleasant, awesome adventure!  But, it can be hazardous as well.  Here are a few reminders to help make fall motorcycling more of an adventure then a hazard.

1) Gear Up – weather during the fall can turn quickly. I have started a day in sunny warmth then misty rain and then snow and back to sun during one ride. I am sure many others have had the same occurrence. So this tip is to wear, or take, gear to protect yourself from the cold and rain….just in case.

2) The deadly leaf – Pretty when they turn colors but when they fall they can become Motorcycle ride Route 39 VA WV“Leaves Of Death”! A bit dramatic but, if you take a wet leaf to your visor it can be a problem. Leaves on the road, wet or not, can make traction dicey, as well as hiding potholes and other hazards. The tip here is to pay close attention to where you are going.

3) Beware of shade – There are dangers in the dark. Cold temps at night can bring freezing conditions to the roads, ice can appear and hide beneath the “Leaves of Death!”. While the warming morning sun may melt most frozen paths, those in the shade may not melt as fast. Tip, be extra cautious as you move from sun to shade.

4) Lighting the darkness – T-CLOCs is your friend. Darkness comes quickly this time ofElectra Glide Ultra Limited year are your lights working properly. Check to make sure.

5) Tires, hoops of hazards – Yes, it is part of your T-CLOCs but if you are wanting to ride in the fall with slicks (or just worn out tires) you might what to change your mind. Those slick tires + slick leaves and possible ice patches just might just make those hoops of hazards into something much worse.

6) Squirrels and deer HATE you! – Animal are looking far and wide for food now that winter is approaching. That patch of green grass across the road looks mighty tasty to a hungry animal, so much so it will walk or run right in font of you. Tip, pay attention to the sides of the road for Bambi and Thumper.

ijustwant2ride.com7) Tighten up on your riding skills – Just in case you have a Bambi moment, when was the last time you panic stopped from 50MPH to 0? Have you practiced a panic stop with a passenger? If not please do yourself a favor and do so!

8) Check the weather often – Referring back to item 1, in the age of the cell phone it will pay to check your weather throughout your ride. You might have all the right gear on, or stowed, but riding in the rain on a cool fall day across leaf crusted roads is not something you should do if it can be avoided.

9) Grab Fall by the Leaves – There are not many good riding days left in year. Get out and ride, just make sure you are fully prepared.

american byway

Interactive map of American Byways

A few years ago, I wrote about a website the federal government got right, their “America’s Byways” website.

What I did not know, at that time, was that the authorization for identifying and creating new byways had expired in 2012. From 1991 until 2012 nearly 150 roads were defined as an American Byway or an All American Road.

Now, it turns out, that both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the “Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act” and it is now with the president to sign. And who said that they could not work together to make something happen.

This act requires the Secretary of Transportation to seek nominations for and eventually make a decision of those roads that can be added to the list. This program also provides resources to those communities along the roads to help further improve the byways.

plan a motorcycle ride

American Byways info page

This website is a great source in helping plan a future ride. We have used it and have rode several of these byways ourselves including: The Highland Scenic Highway, George Washington Heritage Trail, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Northwestern Turnpike, Skyline Drive and the Natchez Trace among others.

For those of us that like these roads a special thanks must to go out to the American Motorcyclist Association. The AMA is part of the coalition that has gotten us to the point of renewing a government program that actually works.

plan a motorcycle ride

American Byway map page

z14

Overcast, light rain and thunderstorms, that was day one of the HOG Curves to Cores motorcycle rally. There were no guided rides and with those weather conditions I decided not to do any of the self-guided rides. Instead I did the poker run and apple hunt. I still had a lot of fun!

Day Two of the rally was sunny but not hot, perfect motorcycle ride weather! I had signed up for the “Acting Like a Good Ole Boy” guided ride.

z16This was a 127-mile, well crafted, ride across the Blue Ridge Mountains and down the Shenandoah Valley. Some SPECTATUCLAR scenic views and some cool riding. I was unable to get pictures from the motorcycle as my co-pilot and backseat photographer had to work

The mid-point of the motorcycle ride was a stop at “Cooter’s Garage and Dukes of Hazard Museum”. Those of us of a certain age will remember the Dukes fondly as it was a lot of fun to watch. Today it is “politically incorrect” but then it was fun.z17

When we pulled into Cooter’s Garage, we were only folks there but, before we left there was at least one other group of about 10 motorcycles and then the Can-Am Spyder section of the Women’s Mid-Atlantic Riding Tour pulled in the parking lot.

The last time I saw that many Spyders in one spot, my wife sent me to the store for a can of bug spray! (now that is comedy)

From Cooter’s Garage we rode to lunch and then back to home base in Winchester. The return trip was just as scenic.

Day Three was supposed to be a ride to Summit Point Raceway to ride our big Harley Davidsons on the track. I did not make this ride as I had an offer to test ride the new Zero electric motorcycle. Stand by for a post on that event.z13

Day Four of the rally and the weather, once again, was perfect for riding motorcycles. This day my wife was able to attend and we had chosen the “For Whom the Road Tolls” guided ride.

At 80 miles this ride followed the first toll road in what would become the United States, Snickersville Turnpike. This was another well run ride. I want to praise our road captian Peter for an outstanding job on a ride with lots of intersections and stop signs!z6

This ride was through some of the most rural parts of northern Virginia. Beautiful farms and landscapes abound though out the ride. We passed though multiple small towns founded in the mid-1700s, a lot of pre-United States and Civil War history was ridden through this day.

Day four was also the closing of the rally. Held at Groves Harley Davidson of Winchester they had several event prizes to give away, of course I did not win anything! Bummer.

All in all this was a great event, setup and executed very well. We are going to another HOG rally later this year, it will be hard pressed to outperform the Curves to Cores rally.

Ride On, Ride Safe

5

 

Shaving While Riding – Well it is Florida and we are always tight for time in this modern world. But shaving your legs (and other parts??) while a passenger on a scooter or motorcycle?  Make sure you SCROLL down to see the video on the linked page.

American Byways –    I have written about the American Byways (here) and how we have rode our motorcycle on a few of them (here, for example).  The following is from the American Motorcycle Association.

Please urge your senators to support S. 349. This bill would direct the Secretary of Transportation to reopen nominations for the National Scenic Byways Program, which has been closed for six years. Just yesterday the House of Representatives passed their version of this bill, now it’s time for the Senate to act!   Take Action

Kalashnikov Motorcycle?  – From the minds that brought your the AK-47 and other Russian military equipment comes a new motorcycle.  Looks like Robo-cop would fit right in on this bike.  Make sure you watch the video.

One dad refused to teach is son how to ride as motorcycle – But it is not for the reason you may think.

Stealing a fish tank –  In Ohio 2 men attempt a get away on a small motorcycle while carrying a large fish tank.

 

Ijustwant2ride.com

Turns out that for $38 (US) you can get a behind the curtain tour of the Harley Davidson factory in York, PA. Called the “Steel Toe” tour, you get a guided excursion to places in the plant (like paint and polish) that the free version does not.

I purchased the tickets online Thursday for a Friday tour (click here for the Harley Steel Toe Tour website). We showed up a bit early for the 9:30 AM tour and, it turns out, there were only three of us for the tour; Debbie, me and a guy from New Jersey.

 

I wish I could say that we rode the motorcycle to the tour, but it was 25 degrees when we left the house for a 2+ hour trip to the plant. Yes, call me a wimp! (I am adding heated gear to my wish list).

ijustwant2ride.comOnce we got to the “ Tour Center of the Harley-Davidson Vehicle Operations” and checked in we were issued 2 commemorative pins, safety vest (which we got to keep (value $10? at WalMart), safety glasses and steel toe safety “booties” which we did not get to keep. Additionally, our receipts for the tour acted as a $5 off coupon for the gift shop. So, with all said and done, I think we got the tour for about $20.

Our tour guide, JoAnn, started the tour with a short 10-minute video overview of Harley Davidson. After the video and putting on our radio headsets (the plant is very noisy) we started the tour with the stamping of tanks and fenders.

Just a short note about JoAnn.  She has been giving the tours at the plant for 17 years.  It was obvious she knows her way around the facility and the details of how the bikes are assembled. IMHO she is an asset to the factory.

Though out the tour it was as if we were watching “Dancing with the Stars” industrialijustwant2ride.com factory edition. Between the robot machines and the human workers there was an intricate play of just in time parts and assembly. We saw motorcycles being created for not only the US but Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada and other places around the globe.

After an hour and half tour, I have to say I was most impressed with the how the paint is applied in a two-day process. I understand why Harley motorcycle paint jobs look so much better than most other motorcycles. Every painted part is hand inspected for flaws by a team of auditors. If they can fix it there it, they do, otherwise it is sent back for a redo.

Some of the other items we learned during the tour is that the plant is expanding to include the Sportster and Street lines and maybe the Live wire as well. This is mainly because they are closing the Kanas City factory. The expansion is expected to be completed during 2019.

The one thing I did not like was the fact that we could not take photos during the tour. Really, like Indian and others could not buy a ticket, LOL.

We really enjoyed taking this tour. It is so much more interesting then the self-guided walk though of the annual York Open House. I highly recommend this tour, even if you don’t own a Harley Davidson.

 

 

Ijustwant2ride.com

We rode motorcycle across the Highland Scenic Highway as part of our long get away weekend.  I left this and another road off those posts as they deserve their own discussion.  In a nutshell, if you are anywhere near this road you owe it to yourself to enjoy this ride.

Ijustwant2ride.comIt is not a technical, twisty motorcycle road but fun in its own way.  It is more like the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive, 43 miles of ridge top riding with spectacular views and vistas.  Just a sit back, relax and enjoy kind of road.

The Highland Scenic Highway runs from Richwood WV to US Route 219, or vice versa.  The highway is also an “American Byway” that rolls through Monongahela National Forest. We were a week or two early for the peek fall foliage displays but if you time it right it is going to be a wow moment with all the hardwood forests on leafy display.  There are 4 overlooks to stop and view undeveloped wilderness, not all had open facilities, but each had paved parking and picnic areas.

As for the road itself, it was well maintained with mostly rolling ridge top riding.  Toward the IMG_20181005_145617771_HDRnorthern end there was a long, steep incline, parts of which are 9% or (seems) greater!  With over two thousand feet of elevation change, I had the motorcycle in 3rd gear and used engine braking for what felt like miles of decent.  Had the day not been getting late and the shadows long, I would have turned around and rode the Highland Scenic Highway again.

Make sure your tank is topped off before riding, while it is relatively short there are no fuel or snacks along the route.  This road would make for a nice picnic ride, pack your lunch in, stop at an overlook or trail head (there are a lot of hiking trails) for a fun afternoon.

This Scenic Highway is not as easy to get to as most others, it really is in the middle of nowhere.  However, the roads you need to take to get to this byway are just as fun as any we have rode.  If this area and the Highland Scenic Highway are not on your motorcycling bucket list, you need to add them right now!