Monday, April 11, 2016

Perfect Penultimate

Easton Bears, from left: CT Blogger, Grumpy, Fonz, Pogy, QEd, Captain, Princess, Mac and unknown.
Polar Bear Motorcycles Blog, ride to Cheeburger Cheeburger, Easton, Pa., April 10, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

Our next-to-last ride of the 2015/16 season enjoyed Goldilocks Polar Bear riding weather. A not too chilly morning eased into a not too warm afternoon. At some point in the day I employed the full range of thermostat for my gloves, but only half so for jacket, pants and booties. Sun shined. Traffic was light.

Our confident and experienced ride leader kept a silky, sapient and steadfast pace. Our irascible sweep suffered no tailgater gladly and cleared lanes with alacrity. We enjoyed a few moments of drama, including my rather close encounter as a car rabbiting out of the tolls brushed aside my claim of right-of-way, despite the fact I was well ahead and indicating. You can never win a car versus motorcycle battle so I begrudgingly gave way with an astute throttle roll-off maneuver. "You were so calm, I didn't know if you didn't see the car or just had nerves of steel," commented Captain, my second rider, when we parked in Easton.

Somehow I missed exit 14 to I-78 west. It happens just as the NJ Turnpike splits into the truck and car parallels. Guess I missed the sign. My GPS gladly routed me off at exit 13. It was an effective, hectic, fusillade of exit ramps in rapid succession. Several of our riders commented on my exit 13 route. Token2 was representative, "I've never gone that way before. Let's never do it again."

Our destination was just right too. A tiny bit over 150 miles and a little under two hours. A bit less expressway would have been nice. But expressway riding is best in winter when conditions are unpredictable and ice threatens.

Easton, Pa. is delightfully quaint. Word around our lunch table postulated the owner of Cheeburger Cheeburger is politically connected. Easton gave us the street for a whole block in front of the restaurant, Easton's best manning roadblocks just for us.

The owner, big Frank Aversa, is also a biker. He knows what motorcyclists desire: bikes-only parking, great food and a raucous atmosphere. When "Sweet Caroline" came on the sound system, Frank loudly led us all in the chorus. The room roared, "Sweet Car-o-line, da, da, daah, good times never seemed so good, da, da, dum."

Most of us took advantage of the all American fare: burgers with your choice of tasty toppings, fries, onion rings, milkshakes, sodas. One of our group, who will remain nameless, went off the rails when she ordered a salmon burger.

We talked about motorcycles and riding. Mac captured Princess' undivided attention (no small feat) with two magic words: Hoka Hey. She took Fonz's seat and they started planning the next ride right there and then. Fonz suggested maybe there could be an organized ride like Hoka Hey, but with no time limits. You'd just go around and enjoy the scenery. Fonz shared that riding sleep deprived is the equivalent of a 0.05 alcohol buzz.

One of our newest riders, Ed, was more ebullient than usual. I think he's getting the measure of our group. Due to a family obligation, this was also his last Polar Bear ride of the season. Maybe he wanted us to remember him fondly to ensure an invitation next year. Heck, he even bought coffee and hot chocolates at Chez GSP. Yet Ed never partakes.

Token2 named him QEd for Quiet Ed. Of course Token2 is educated enough to be making a pun. QED also is used to show you proved your point in an argument, quod erat demonstrandum. Urban Dictionary defines it as, "A mathematician's way of saying, 'I win.'" Its usage is more favored in British English. Hmmmm.

You can't see Ed in our group picture. He stoically assents to the weekly group photo at the top of every Polar Bear Motorcycles Blog ride post. He cleverly positions himself to be included but not seen. I didn't catch on until I caught up this blog after a period of neglect and thereby had occasion to view the group photos in an hour's time, as opposed to weekly.

He also fights off Princess' efforts to selfie with him. She does that to everybody. This week she selfied with another woman rider just because she had the same Harley heated jacket liner.

The photo's not mandatory, Ed. You're a good rider and fun companion and neither of those are required to ride with us anyway. Just look around at some of the characters in our group! We hope to see you next year.

First there is one ride more: far away Cape May. Right now the weather forecast is for rain. I never believe the long range forecast unless it is good. We'll ride whatever the weather. We'll be at the shore where a salmon burger is perhaps acceptable fare.

Fonz signs up for next season . . .

. . . and earned his gold rocker.

Matching jackets selfie.

Figuring the bill.

Never one of those bill checker pens around when you need one.

Dueling Photographers.

QEd bought a round of coffees and hot chocolates and an espresso for our one classy rider.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Snow Way!

Kingston Polar Bears drove in their car this Sunday, from left: Polar Bear Grand Pooh Bah, Princess, Captain.

Motorcycles Polar Bear Blog, DRIVE to Hickory BBQ House in Kingston, NY, April 3, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

Our last ride we beat the snow by hours. This Sunday most of us chickened-out. The timing of the storm looked dicey. Our destination was north and west. And when Token2, who rode his bike to Alaska and back, says he doesn't want to ride in the high winds, I'm ready to call no joy.

Captain and Princess drove to protect their perfect attendance. When I saw Joanna's Facebook photo, I was very glad I stayed home.

We had a pretty mild winter this year. But spring, spring has been harsh!

Snow Beaters

Langhorne Polar Bears, from left: Token2, Grumpy, CT Blogger, Pogy, Mac, Captain, QEd and Princess.

Motorcycles Polar Bear Blog, ride to Brian's Harley-Davidson, Langhorne, Pa., March 20, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

Snow was forecast for the afternoon. We looked at the hourly forecast and decided to risk it. Unfortunately, our route took us toward the approaching storm. Fortunately, we beat it home. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania sprayed that horrible, corrosive, sodium chloride and magnesium salt all over the roads, in great quantities.

We used our Early Departure Protocol (EDP) and arrived before lunch was ready. As soon as the local HOG Chapter hosts had the hot stuff available we ate and ran for home.

Except for my GPS taking me a way that I've never been before, with the pressure of a half-dozen riders behind me, it was a smooth and uneventful ride.

It snowed Sunday night.

Salt crap all over the highways.

Grumpy earned Red, Token2 60-point pin.

Monday morning.

Longest Distance Polar Bear Ride?

Augusta Polar Bears, from left: CT Blogger, Thumper, Princess the Long Distance Diva, Pogy down front, QEd hiding behind Captain and Scott.
Polar Bear Motorcycles Blog, ride to Chatterbox, Augusta, NJ, March 13, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

This is one of those cool Polar Bear destinations that I keep thinking I should visit in the summer, maybe with wife Cynthia in the MX5 with the top down. It's a scenic delight, including horse farms and quaint towns. On the way is a coal mining museum.

But this week's ride was all about Princess.

She rode to Augusta, NJ directly from Daytona, Fla. Her timing was off only a little, she found a diner up the road that was open early and waited our arrival.

Joanna rode down to Daytona earlier in the week, an Iron Butt ride on the way down, another on the way back. She attended the Iron Butt meet and got to meet some of the world's toughest riders including Michael Kneebone. Joanna has taken to long distance riding like a fish to water. For those who do not know of the Iron Butt Association, it is a long distance motorcycle recognition organization.

We enjoyed lunch, heard perhaps only some of Joanna's adventures and headed for home.

CT Blogger leading the CT Bears.

Enjoying classic 50's fare, but we were too early for St. Patty's corned beef.

Joanna's odometer for the ride down to Daytona.

Princess and Michael Kneebone.

Daytona princess.

Polar Bear Overload

Waretown Polar Bears, from left: Mac, Captain, Grumpy, CT Blogger, Pogy down front, Princess, Token2, John J.
Polar Bear Motorcycles Blog, ride to Lighthouse Tavern, Waretown, NJ, February 28, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

Restaurants don't believe our Polar Bear Ride Coordinators when they try to warn them what happens when you open your place to the Bears, especially on an unusually warm Sunday. Lighthouse Tavern was packed, full. We ended up sitting at the bar, and happy to have seats. Food was slow, very slow. It was tasty. The waitstaff did all they could to keep our spirits up. Man, they were running.

Spread out laterally as we were, there wasn't the same opportunity we usually enjoy for trading stories, and barbs. A few rain storms, and no recent snows, brought John J. out. Hopefully he can join us for some of the late season, no salt sprayed on the highway, rides.

Some of our Bears are making Daytona plans. We hope to hear of their adventures a few weeks hence.

John J.



CT Blogger.

Packed along the bar. All the tables were taken.

World's worst selfie?
Stop at the Top Selfie

Long Valley Ride

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, ride to Long Valley Pub, Long Valley, NJ, March 6, 2016.

This weekend I was once again at work, this time for Pirates and Princesses weekend at the Aquarium. It was hectic and fun and, thankfully, well attended.

Pirating instead of Polar Bearing at work instead of riding. My own princess came to visit me.

By Captain:

It was a quite a day. I departed the DD at 8:59 AM heading South. Met Pogy at the rest stop and continued down I-95 toward NY. Just before the Border FONZ caught up. As arranged Token2 and the Princess were waiting at the entrance ramp off I-287, we continued West over the bridge then South to I-80 then to the destination. The Long Valley pub offered a buffet which had something for everyone. Token2 left for Daytona after the group photo. We then headed North to the top for coffee but Pogy continued on alone. After our break continued on arriving home about 3:30 PM.

The Princess has the group photo ant a few sellfie's.

Leo Chlebnikow the 100 Year-old Polar Bear

Leo Chlebnikow, left, with his neighbor Ralph Maresca.
Photo by: Mitsu Yasukawa 
Bonus Post. I wanted to share Polar Bear Grand Tour Chairman Bob Hartpence's post about one of our fellow Polar Bear riders. The story was shared February 22, 2016. The photo above was taken the day before on Leo's 100th birthday.

 I thought you might be interested in reading this about Leo one of our Polar Bear members.

This is the story of how Leo Chlebnikow bought his first motorcycle. It was 1932, and a man in the neighborhood was selling a used Harley-Davidson for $100. Chlebnikow didn’t have a hundred dollars. The Depression was on, and during the winters Chlebnikow and his family warmed their house on 32nd Street in Paterson by chopping furniture into kindling and feeding it to the stove.

But Chlebnikow was 16 years old, and he wanted the bike. So he made the best offer he could. First, he’d save up $5 for a down payment. After that, he’d pay the man a dollar a week. Most of the money came from Chlebnikow’s job at an auto repair shop, where he scrounged around car seats for loose coins.

“It took me two years to pay it off,” said Chlebnikow, who celebrated his 100th birthday with a party on Sunday with about 80 friends and family members at Biagio’s restaurant in Paramus. “That’s the way you made a deal in them days.”
Time went on and the money came easier, but the fundamentals of Chlebnikow’s life didn’t change much. First there was work, always work. Then came family, friends and motorcycles, and most of the time the three were all mixed together. Many friends he met through motorcycle clubs, or out on the road. And if members of his family didn’t like riding on the back of his motorcycle, they often wound up buying their own.

“Anybody who turns 100 will get a lot of people to his birthday party,” said Dave Quinn, 58, a friend who met Chlebnikow through the New Jersey Highlanders motorcycle club. “We’re not here because he’s 100 years old. We’re here because he’s an amazing guy.”

During World War II he worked at the Curtiss-Wright airplane factory in Caldwell, forging metal propeller blades. Some days, when the plant had an order for “little fighter plane propellers,” Chlebnikow said, he’d make 100 blades a day. After that, Chlebnikow did a little bit of everything. He drove trucks, owned and sold a furniture store, chauffeured a Paterson business owner to San Francisco and back, fixed cars, worked as a plumber, worked as a mechanic for Time Life Publications, and traveled the country setting up call centers for a telemarketing company.

He did try retiring once, at age 75. He and his wife planned a trip to California, his daughter Beverly Schneider said. But retirement didn’t take. Within days, Chlebnikow was so bored he found another job. The California trip was canceled.
“Oh, Mom was mad!” said Chlebnikow’s son Bob. “He just couldn’t sit still.”
The work continued at the family’s home in Paramus. Chlebnikow dug the trench to connect the house to the city sewer line, then he dug another big hole for the heating oil tank. Until last year, he changed the oil on every car he owned.

Once, a couple of decades ago, his neighbor Ralph Maresca fell ill and was bedridden for three months. Maresca describes himself as a “fanatic” about keeping his yard nice. So Chlebnikow told his neighbor to rest. He would handle all the work himself — mowing, watering, weeding and edging the grass — all summer long.

“Here I was in my 40s and I can’t get out of bed, and this guy’s in his 80s and he’s outside doing my yard,” said Maresca, 55. “He’s a great friend, and the best neighbor you’ll ever find.”

Even when Chlebnikow finally retired, it was not voluntary. For 10 years he worked at the Bergen Honda motorcycle dealership, teaching new owners how to ride so they could pass the state test and get their motorcycle license. When Chlebnikow was 93, the dealership closed.

“They laid me off!” Chlebnikow said. “Well, what was I going to do? Who’s going to hire a 93-year-old guy?”

His example of tireless, mostly joyful work rubbed off. Bob Chlebnikow, now 79, retired to Myrtle Beach after a career in construction. Eventually he got bored playing golf four times a week, so two years ago he got a job buying supplies for a construction company. He works 10 hours a day, five days a week.

“Dad was a plumber, and he had me cutting copper tubing by the time I was 8 years old,” Bob Chlebnikow said at the party. “He taught me a lot. He was just the best father you could ever want.”

Chlebnikow rode motorcycles the way he worked — joyfully, and almost without end. When Quinn joined the New Jersey Highlanders eight years ago, Chlebnikow was the leader of the first ride. The group headed down to Lakehurst, in Ocean County. On their way back, as they merged onto Route 287, Chlebnikow spun the throttle and rocketed ahead of the pack.

“He had somewhere he wanted to be. He must have been going 90 miles an hour,” Quinn said. “He was 92 years old, and he got around like he was 18. He was just the coolest guy.”

Eventually Chlebnikow didn’t trust himself anymore on two wheels, so he bought a white three-wheeled Honda motorcycle. His latest ride was on a Sunday last August, when he fired up the bike and rode it around the block. Maresco was so amazed he stopped working in his garage, walked outside and filmed the ride on his phone.

At Sunday’s party, the consensus opinion was that Chlebnikow’s motorcycle days have finally passed. Some people weren’t so sure, however. A few weeks ago, he asked Ramon Frias to come over. Frias doesn’t work on motorcycles anymore, but for 10 years he was the service manager at Bergen Honda. Chlebnikow asked his old friend to fix his trike’s clutch.

“I spent 15 minutes fixing the bike and six hours in his house, listening to him tell stories,” Frias said. “This guy is a pleasure to be around. He’s just really sweet.”

In 1994, Peter Cohen founded the Bergen Honda Riders motorcycle club. Chlebnikow asked to join.

“I told him sure, we’ll give you the senior citizen’s discount. He was 78. I figured he’d be gone in a few months,” said Cohen, who was glad when Chlebnikow became the club’s de facto leader. “Chicks love him. They think he’s cute. I’m a single guy. I’ve met a lot of women through Leo.”

Now Cohen and Chlebnikow have at least one more trick planned. When spring comes and the weather warms up, Cohen will ride his motorcycle to Chlebnikow’s house, put his 100-year-old friend on the back seat, and go for a ride.