Posts Tagged ‘Cold Weather’

NOAA-MapYou’re the CEO and going down your quarterly earnings check list:

  1. Still in business after 110 years – Check
  2. Secured music talent for 110th Anniversary Party – Check
  3. Number one seller of motorcycles to young adults (18-34) – Check
  4. Increase 2013 first quarter revenue to $1.57B (up 10%) vs. $1.43B a year earlier — Check
  5. Increase 2013 first quarter income to $224.1M vs. $172M a year earlier – Check
  6. HOG shares up 2.1% to closed at $54.31 – Check
  7. U.S. dealers sold 34,706 new motorcycles, down 12.7% from a year earlier – Ooops!

Colder temperatures and the wet climate set the stage for the quarterly sales miss.  At least according to Harley-Davidson CEO, Keith Wandell who stated in last week’s earnings call… “By far, the vast majority of the (sales decline) was weather related”.

Temp2-MapInteresting.  The earnings call didn’t signal any major marketing changes for the brand, instead pinning some of the losses on external factors such as rainfall in many parts of the country, the weak economy and the unseasonably cold weather.

Are the only unemployed consumers who keep getting rained on Harley-Davidson consumers?!

Generally speaking home sales and auto sales are up.  It would seem that management neglected to remind us about Superstorm Sandy, how federal tax returns have been delayed and how fuel prices are unsettling to consumers.  To be fair some retail outlets selling spring apparel, home and garden were depressed due to wintry conditions, but looking at the weather for an impact on Harley-Davidson consumer spending seems a bit trivial.

I spent the last week in Arizona and if you plotted temperatures from dawn until noon, you’d observe an alarming warming trend.  If you extended that trend line for the next 4-months, you’ll clearly notice that ice caps will melt and the poor polar bears will be swimming more.

We’ll soon know if the good weather in the upcoming quarter provides a recovery to more normalized sales volume.

Photo courtesy of NOAA

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You (almost) thought it would never happen but, finally, winter is waning.

Let’s face it, riding anything (including a riding lawn mower) in the northwest has been a chilling and damp experience!  And we still have many cold, wet days ahead even though spring is supposedly here.

Portland (OR) normally receives an average of 3.71 inches of rain during March, but at the end of the month we had received 6.49 inches (5th highest on record) and there were 29 days of measurable rain breaking the old record of 27 days.  And on the very last day of month was the first time we witnessed the temperature gauge hitting 60 degrees… the latest date in recorded history to reach that mark.  Yep, a lot of records were broken and not necessarily in a good way.

But, no worries if you like the drizzle it’s going to be another soggy week throughout the area with high temperatures reaching all the way up to the mid- 50s.

My point is that I’m trying to sketch out my spring and summer riding entertainment and the weather is making it difficult to visualize.  What with all the boating, hiking, photography, local festivals and drinking of refreshments over the BBQ I’m not sure if I can fit it all in which is largely dependent on when the rain will subside.   Last year I laid a plan out HERE and was fortunate to have the budget to complete three (Laughlin70th SturgisStreet Vibrations) of the five trips as well as the Hells Canyon rally.  It was a lot of miles and a good riding year in my book!

One which will be difficult to repeat as the Zac Brown Band song, “Toes” rolls around in my head…

“I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand
Life is good today, life is good today…”

It got me to thinking about all those miles last year and the first surprise to me is how much better motorcycle clothing has become.  It use to be a worn out leather jacket to carry you through summer and winter riding, augmented with a vest or long sleeve shirt or two.  Now days there are heated hand grips, heated clothing and a variety of wind blocking jackets with reflective piping.  In addition there are all these Gore-Tex waterproof pullovers, neckerchiefs and face masks that do exactly what they were meant too.

Let’s see, if drizzle falls at about 3-4mph and big rain drops fall at about 7-8mph… then the difference of a walk in the rain vs. a motorcycle ride in the rain is about ten times the speed.  Ten times as much water hits you per second.  I won’t go into the mathematical proof here, but think about that and the fact that rain is hitting the rider horizontally, not just vertically.   First the air gets cold, then the rider is hit with a wall of spray from trucks that is mixed with oil residue all the while the face shield accumulates condensation … Is there any wonder why so many motorcyclists try and limit their riding in the rain?!  But, I’ve really digressed.

Time to hit “repeat” on the iPod and sketch out my riding plans…for when there is less rain!

Photo courtesy of The Guardian.

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outdoor_tempI guess it’s now officially winter here in the Northwest.  

It snowed most of the day yesterday in Portland and sub-freezing temp’s are on order for most of the week.  Not a huge revelation if you’re local to the area.  We’ve sure had some gorgeous fall weather for riding and I doubt we’re going to see anymore of those 50 degree days for good awhile.

snoxcycleBut just because it’s winter does not mean you can’t take out your motorcycle for a ride.  I’m of the viewpoint that when the snow and ice start coating the asphalt it’s no place for a motorcycle, but others may think differently.  In fact, if your so inclined there is a conversion kit that will turn a dirt bike into what’s called a SnoxCycle in a little over an hour.  For about $3K you could be riding a motorcycle on snow that is a thrilling experience.

Dirt bikes often get parked in the garage for much of the winter months, but this conversion will have you racing snowmobiles in record time.

SnoxCycle photo courtesy of Gizmag


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santanaBefore we closed out Saturday evening we enjoyed the sounds of a Carnival/Latino band.  They played Santana down to the exact guitar note and percussion crash. Awesome group. I got a fairly good picture of the band and thought I’d post it. If anyone knows who this group is let me know and I’ll update the post. UPDATE: Band is Caravanserai. A Santana tribute band who painstakingly recreate the sound. Photo is Hank Gibson (L:Bass/Vocals) and Leo Herrera (R:Guitar/Vocals).

Sunday was our return trip to Portland.  It was going to be a very full day of riding — Reno, Susanville thru Mt Shasta to Portland via I-5.  More than 550 miles in the saddle and the weather had turned ugly.
When I tour on longer trips I bring gear for temperatures between 30°F and 100°F and assume that it could be raining continuously (as in 24 hours a day). I try and do this no matter where I’m going and no matter what the time of year. It may seem silly to bring an electrically heated vest when touring in southern Nevada in September but it’s a habit and it’s been rare where I’ve taken a trip and didn’t use every piece of riding clothing that I brought at least once.  As was the case on this trip I used every electric piece of clothing I owned.

A full face helmet was needed to avoid an “ice cream” headache. Riding in the cold isn’t really the limiting factor – it’s the lousy traction conditions when you get rain or snow on the roads. We had 40°F with rain the entire way to Susanville, CA. The mountain range got a dusting of snow and by the time we stopped, up-plugged the gear at a local McD’s, it was just down right nasty. The additional effect – called wind-chill factor has a way of cooling everything and it is significant on a bike.  It has a way of finding any itty-bitty opening in clothing and making it worse. The faster the air is moving the faster it will cool.
susanville snow
Standing in line at the Susanville McD’s a dude told us of his departure from Reno only to find himself “wheels-up” after rounding a slick corner. Nothing major was hurt other than his pride and his significant other never stopped rolling her eyes and giving him the “if looks could kill” look! We up-leveled our body temp with some hot java and sausage biscuits. While we were eating the rain stopped. We redressed and departed and by the time we made another 40 miles the roads were dry and we were making quick tracks to Mt. Shasta.
Mt Shasta
From Susanville we took CA-44 through Lassen National Forest.  We headed up toward Old Station and then took CA-89 toward the town of Mount Shasta.  This route is good and fast with varied and interesting scenery.   When we stopped in Mount Shasta for gas and started peeling off clothes as the sunshine started making the day look better.

We hit the on ramp for I-5, stopped once for a quick gas-n-go and then landed in Eugene at a local truck stop for dinner. We made it home in a little over 11 hours and only a slight ear buzz.   Another terrific and safe trip!

There is a difference between travel and a vacation. We choose the itinerary for vacations, but our motorcycle travels lead us on a journey…

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