Friday, November 27, 2009

Hopewell, NJ; November 22, 2009

Once again your blogger was NOT present for the Polar Bear ride. (May have trouble getting that gold rocker again this year!) This last Sunday my "excuse" was a wonderful weekend-plus getaway with the wife to Gettysburg.

It was the 146th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, delivered November 19, 1863. The occasion is commemorated with Civil War reenactors and a luminary display in the cemetery. You can see more photos on my Facebook page, but I thought it was okay for me to share just a few here.

I visited the battlefield as a teenager. It was wonderful to see it once again, now from an adult perspective. I was reading Longstreet's memoirs then walking the very same ground. Here and there on the battlefield reenactors drilled, their drums and bands echoing among forlorn hills now traipsed by tourists.

The whole event was something like a bike rally. People were walking around everywhere in funny clothes, united by a common interest. Just like wearing chaps at a bike rally, where else can you wear hoop skirts and braided epaulets on the street all day?

I commented in shock to my wife at the cost of an authentic civil war uniform coat, some three hundred bucks for something you can wear only for special occasions! Cynthia just laughed, "I know someone who has spent far more on specialized clothing with limited uses."

50 degrees and sunny

Of course I know you are more interested in the adventures of Connecticut Polar Bears who actually go on the rides! Fortunately my fellow riders still provide correspondent reports, even when it takes me more than a week to post them. Here John Howard provides a fun account with plenty of inside jokes. We call John "Token," not because he is an American with a British accent, but because he rides a Honda ST amongst our Harley crowd. Such is even fodder for this week's entry.

Here is John Howard's report . . .

Report by John Howard, Headlines:
  • Kammerer kisses Curtis
  • Howard and Cole Harley/Honda tiff settled in Hillybilly parking lot
  • Nick spends 13th birthday with Grandpa and CTPBs; charges of cruel and unusual punishment are pending
  • CT Blogger flagged over English language comments

The sun greeted the Connecticut Bears for the ride to Hopewell, though the temperature started on the cool side (about 40 degrees F), it quickly rose to above 50 degrees, peaking at 56.
Johns B., K., and J., Nick, Russ, Bernie, Ralph and Bart assembled at the Stratford Dunkin' Donuts as usual and made good speed to pick up John H. at the Tappan Zee Bridge bang on time at 9:45 a.m.

Johnny B. with Nick in pillion was the lead with John J. bringing up the rear as sweep after a bruising series of reports (mostly unjustified) on his lead ride on week four.

The ride south on the Interstate system was uneventful with numerous state troopers spotted along the way. The fun started after the turn on to Route 206 south when the CT bears found themselves being squeezed by a long train of NJ Bears as the road narrowed from two lanes down to one lane.

Mixed into the front of the NJ Bear phalanx things were a little sticky until the CT Bears assembled single file on the left track and the NJ Bears moved off to the right side to stop to reform. Sorted out, the CT Bears continued south and after a stop light found themselves behind another large group of NJ Bears and with the other NJ group behind at one point there must have been 60 bikes in formation heading south, quite a sight.

At an intersection the assemblage came to a rather sudden stop that caught the Captain out just a little which resulted in his bike kissing the back of a bag on Russ' new ride. (I never meant to imply their lips ever touched, that would be disgusting and way too horrible to contemplate.) The Captain wobbled some but thankfully stayed upright. The final 10 miles were a slow paced stop and go intersection riddle tour of the NJ countryside, but otherwise uneventful.

Hillybilly Hall was packed to the gills on our punctual arrival at 11:30 a.m. Seeing John B. lead the group to the way yonder boonies, John H. and John J. thought better of it and found a couple of spots up at the front lot, wandering down the stoned back to find the group. The choice of parking spot by Johnny B. drew some well chosen words from a certain ex-submariner, though the choice for the leader was rather limited.

Bart, who had been YELLING his opinion via e-mail on the attributes of the trusted STeed (get it?) of John H., greeted him with a Polar Bear hug in reconciliation. Riding sporty V-twins is a desire of the author which was again unrequited due to the dismal reliability of the Buell Uly. Oh well, perhaps next week that fine piece of engineering will be road worthy.

Editor's Note: For those who did not see the e-mail traffic, here is what Bart said about John H. comments about John's Buell Ulysses.

As an owner of many Japanese motorcycles and cars in my life, all I can say is . . . BORING!!! As one Harley owning friend of mine once said after riding my 1986 Honda Magna V65 or whatever the (heck) it was, "It's like kissing your grandmother." I couldn't have described it better myself.
My Harleys have given me no problemos at all. The torque and the attitude are second to none. I've yet to find one piece of plastic on mine as well.

Be fair to HD Mr. Howard, they own Buell but do not manufacture them!

Editor's Note: Bart was responding to THIS post from John H.
Another thing that will be absent for possibly 5 to 10 years is my Uly, it is not the intake seals, ECM, O2 sensor, temperature sensor or induction system that is causing my EFI running problem so it remains in the shop…Conn. Statute Chapter 743b, section 42-179 is an emerging possibility as lemons should be confined to use in gin and tonics. All future motorcycle purchases will be from the islands of Japan, sorry fellas no Harley will ever grace my garage though I do believe HD/Buell Danbury are doing their best.

Editor's Note: Back to John H. report of Hopewell ride.
Sign-in was relatively smooth given the crowds and John B. corralled a table for 10, adopted CT Bear Matt included, to participate in lunch.

Bernie left his ordered scribbled on a napkin and departed for the line for the loo (a.k.a. men's room, just trying to broaden the group's vocabulary). Meanwhile John K. just upped and left for the same destination while Russ made other arrangements to relieve himself.

On Russ' return, the order for food was placed except for you know who, no order available and still in line as the server lamented that she could not put the food order in until all the table had identified what they wanted.

Captain K. returned to the table and was roundly heckled for his lack of group awareness and to make matters worse he ordered a chicken Caesar salad. Jeez, there was a time when CT Bears were real men!!

By this time Ralph was wondering if riding with the CT Bears was the wisest choice he could be making for his future, but after being regaled with tales of the mishaps his fellow but absent MSF Instructor has had over the years, he is going to give it more time.

Johnny B. made the group aware that Nick was celebrating his 13th birthday which was cheered by the group however a rendition of "Happy Birthday to You" was not forthcoming. What a shame for the new teenager. It occurred to me that having such a fresh face in this group of gnarly old geezers was a brutal way to introduce Nick into his teenage years, when a growing awareness of one's influence on the world and sensitivity to the needs of others should flourish. CT Bears as lunch companions and role models would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment for a birthday boy. Always great to have you along Nick and enjoy your teenage years!

The conversation meandered to the subject of the CT Blog and the CT Blogger who offered a critique of the submissions from the Week 4 Bears. It is believed that three or more submissions were made and such a difficult task was it to untangle the muddled English that the final report remains a work in progress. CT Blogger was flagged for inappropriate use of certain punctuation marks in his e-mail of November 19th by the wife of a Week 5 Bear who apparently graduated with a degree majoring in the English language.

The matter remains open and is unlikely to be settled until CT Blogger can rejoin the group. It is hoped that a resolution can be found without punches being thrown, however, the number of ride reports for Week 5 presented for consideration is expected to decline from the peak observed in Week 4.

Hillybilly Hall was in the rear view mirror by about 1:15 p.m., the northbound trip commenced with a pleasant tour of the back roads of central New Jersey leading to Interstate 287, 78 and the Garden State Parkway with a customary stop at the Montvale Services.

Bart was the payer on this occasion but refused to serve the group as a consequence of the roasting John H. received a couple of weeks before. He need not have been worried as the beverages were delivered without fault and in perfect order; this led to the conclusion that it was the ordering technique of the newest, but as yet defective, American that had created prior problems. Let it be known that the defective American has sworn off making any future group beverage purchases.

The group did the usual thing at the Tappan Zee Bridge on the way east and so ended this chapter in the CT Bear season of 2009.

(If I don't get at least a B+ for this I am going to go see the Principal.)

Report from Grumpy:
Here are this week's photos. Group shot by J.B. most of the others by Nick B.
(Editor's note: A few portraits were also sent by Bart.)
Report for Sunday's ride: We showed up, we went there for lunch, on the way home we stopped for coffee. It was a nice day to ride.

Next Ride:
Chris here.
Our next ride is to Schoch's Harley-Davidson.

This is the site of my very first Polar Bear ride and you can read that story on my blog:

It was also the last motorcycle ride of our friend Clark Makinson. You can read about Clark on my blog too:

Mapquest says the ride is 2 hours, 45 minutes, and 146 miles one way.

Therefore let's figure on a departure time of 9:00 a.m. from the Dunkin' Donuts in Stratford, CT.
That Dunkin' is the one just off Interstate 95, Exit 30, at the corner of Lordship Boulevard and Honeyspot Road.

All are welcome to join us. However I believe the Polar Bear Grand Tour has reached its limit of 550 registered participants. You can still ride, but will have to wait until next year to earn the coveted Polar Bear patch.

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