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Reflection

Burning In The Sun Reflection

I’m talking about burning in the sun and the end of summer.

Many consider Labor Day to be the last hurrah of summer. School is kicking off and the football season is launched.

Yet, Labor Day is really just a symbolic end to summer. Traditionally, fall begins at the “time of equal days and nights” or known by many as the equinox which occurs around September 22.

The history of Labor Day seems unimportant for what has become the de-facto end of summer for the American public.  As the carefree days and warm nights of summer come to a close, so do those seemingly unlimited blue sky days of freedom in the wind, riding with friends.

Each summer – on one specific day, at least here in the northwest, you’ll notice the light changes.  Sure, I know that’s not how it works, that the angle of the earth to the sun is constantly changing, but for some reason there’s one specific day it becomes most noticeable, and then you realize – fall is coming.

And it’s at about that same time you realize all those riding trips you thought about doing over the summer are being extinguished. That it’ll be another year before you make it to Glacier National Park or ride the Sawtooths or cruise down Route 66.

Fall is so different from summer. Everybody’s so serious, buckling down and making everything count by Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then the year ends. After that, it’s the January doldrums.

I was reflecting on my motorcycle rides this year during the commute to work and remember that when you’re young the summer is an eternity.  It was long enough to be bored, not realizing those days will fade and never come back.  But, as you age it slides by so fast that if you don’t stop and take it all in, you miss it.  And like many of you, I distinctly remember when summer meant work.  Back then it was all about nights and weekends.  And now, it’s just a season.

So, before we say goodbye to the long days.  Or so long to those nights without a jacket and the optimism of summer…

Let’s remember that we’ve got the new 2015 Harley-Davidson models to ogle at in the dealer.  And here in the northwest we’ve got the Street Vibrations Rally to look forward too.  It happens in Reno in less than a month which from my vantage typically marks the end of consistent riding for the year.  It’s always a good event, especially when there isn’t a club shooting and on even or is it odd years the weather can be awesome through Lassen State Park.

Lastly, please remember that the Labor Day holiday weekend is the second deadliest holiday period for highway travelers in Oregon.  July-August have been extremely deadly this year for motorcyclists so please ride safe as you cruise with the “End of Summer” music blasting.

Photo taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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more-riding-less-bloggingWhere’s Mac?

You’ve likely noticed fewer blog posts the last couple months?

I don’t presume anyone notices or further, cares, but if you’re curious, life has been busier than usual and “the man” is keeping me down.  Too much work travel and cube isolation has taken a toll and one of the things that has fallen by the wayside is blogging.

Blogging is a hobby for me and because someday I hope to ride a wave on shore and start sipping pina coladas on the way to retirement — occasionally I find the need to prioritize work above hobbies.

I don’t put much pressure on myself to churn out “content” and I’m certainly not looking to ratchet up revenue through social media outreach  — adverts.  Besides, I feel good about how many “friends” I’ve got.  However, I do wonder after a couple of weeks pass and I can’t seem to find the passion to write something clever whether I’ve soured on the whole blogging gig?

I’m sure you are just as busy in your life as I, or stressed or living a crazy schedule too so, the “I’m busier than you” conversation never leads anywhere and that’s not the point of my post today.

I’ll still plan to blog, but I really want to ride more and post about those rides.  I wanted to provide some insight on the lack of consistent posts.

Photo courtesy of http://www.thefootdown.co.uk

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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HOG Tablet EditionHarley-Davidson is unleashing the next wave of innovation.

The HOG® Magazine is a perfect-bound magazine published 5 times a year and mailed directly to the members of the Harley Owners Group® (H.O.G.®) as part of their membership package.  The magazine features product information, riding stories, and photographs as well as in-depth stories about motorcycle travels around the world on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

There are a number of good reasons to become a HOG member if you’ve made the commitment to ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  If you’re already a member then you just got a FREE bonus.

I’m talking about the tablet edition of the HOG Magazine.  The tablet edition contains all the same content as the print edition, plus digital-only content such as expanded photo galleries, interactive web links and more.  You can get more information HERE or go directly to iTunes HERE and download the app.

There is no charge for current full and full life members.  The app is included as part of your membership benefits and you don’t need a new account or password for the Apple App Store.  You can use your existing iTunes account credentials to install Newsstand and download the HOG magazine app.

I downloaded the app to an iPad mini this week and the magazine content came to life.  The photo’s pop and it’s easy to navigate the various articles.  I really liked the ability to click on a link and get expanded information from the article.  I suspect there will be a lot more interactive content in future articles such as video and audio.

Enjoy.

Photo courtesy of H-D and HOG.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Slowly but surely, things are getting better—or so we’d like to believe.

The unfortunate truth is the recession has sent an alarming number of families into financial distress for the first time. Unemployment remains high. Home foreclosures continue. The Portland Police Bureau respond to what seems like an ever increasing number of calls involving people struggling with mental health crisis, including suicides.  Visits to food banks have reached record levels. The increasing demand for services—and diminishing state and local resources—is straining the community safety net for people in need.

I don’t have answers to the economic issues.  But undeniably, the sensation of air molecules colliding with one’s face is refreshingly life-affirming.  To be in the wind: Free. Untethered. Sans obligations, financial, agendas, appointments, offices, annoyances.  Life’s problems just don’t seem as bad…

In part, it’s the reason for the tag line of this blog Whatever it is… it’s better in the wind” which I created back in July 2007.  The thinking was all a person needs is a few bucks for a used bike, $20 bucks for some fuel, a couple t-shirts, some free time, and a couple like-minded friends to enjoy the sensation. If you can’t scrape that together, then at least roll down the windows on the SUV, and enjoy a few moments of well-deserved Wind.

And speaking of wind in the face… a couple years ago I blogged (HERE) about Scott G. Toepfer — an emerging documentary photographer with a love of motorcycles and adventure.  His posse set out across the Western U.S., to experience the spaces between here and there, and to see what becomes of them on the road.

It turns out that Mr. Toepfer finally aggregated the content he captured from their rides over the last two years and release the short film (HERE – 17 min) which tells the story of their adventures.  It’s certainly worth a watch and may even be an inspiration for getting out in the wind!

Photo courtesy of Scott Toepfer.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Five of a Kind At Grand Canyon

This is a shout out to an extraordinary posse.

Hardly the stereotypical, tatted-up, badass bikers portrayed in pop culture or do we ride the machines of American Chopper — slick and polished.

From the outside looking in you can’t understand it, but there are many benefits to riding a motorcycle with a group.  Aside from the obvious “wind in the face” to take your mind off daily troubles to the cool events that you visit from glitz to back-water destinations.   From the moment you mount the motorcycle the most important aspect from my vantage is the posse camaraderie.

Whether I’m with my family at home or the “family on the road,” the center piece of the posse is the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Oh sure some lost their way for a time and rode other kinds of bikes, but these days the posse is like a mini-community based on a shared passion and a common interest around the Harley brand.  And while we defend the motor company we haven’t drank the Kool-aid!  We’re a demanding and very vocal enthusiast bunch when it comes to items the company needs to do to please it’s customers.

A Half-Dozen at HCMR

Has the posse always agreed on everything?  No.  We’ve had the typical debates about the merits of camping vs. checking in, riding with a large group or going solo, silence vs. Boom! Audio, up early vs. sleeping in, freeway speed or riding slow back-water roads and the more contentious item of planning way ahead or plan as you go.  We’ve tried them all and each has offered up some unique and fun adventures.  And no matter what the trip or the destination, all a good motorcycle ride needs is camaraderie and fun roads, right?

And speaking of roads, one common thread is that we all have plenty of time to ride.  That is to say, we make time to ride.  As much as we have in common, all of these accomplished riders is also entirely unique.  Each has his own set of experiences, his own philosophy of life and riding, and his own collection of interesting stories about life on the road.  I especially look forward to riding in the dry hot desert while others think a misty Highway 101 ride down the coast is “just perfect.”

I’ve been riding with this group for many years and everyone adjusts.  In fact, some of the members have history back to the coastal range and the dirt bike days at Lee’s Camp before a Harley-Davidson motorcycle stirred up any emotions.

The remainder of the posse at the CCA Ride

I’ll often get ask how we do it.  How do we handle riding all those miles.  I’ll typically just say that if you string a few 300 mile days together, one day at a time, then you’ve got a Posse Ride!

We’ve enjoyed following the “road less traveled” as so many other riders do.  It made us appreciate how divvied up this western part of the U.S. is, with dozens of valleys separated by mountain ranges, woven together by asphalt strips. These roads are really three-dimensional curves, and a rider will certainly get longer life out of the Dunlops, wearing out the sides as much as the middle.

As the years fade away — I’m reminded of winding our way along the back roads of the countryside – and it made me appreciate how rich the memories are of the years riding with an incredible group of friends.

Thank you all for the memories!

Photos taken by author

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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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.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Bruce Hansen knows the roads around Washington, Oregon, Northern CA and British Columbia.

His 2nd edition of the “Motorcycle Journeys Through The Pacific Northwest” (Whitehorse Press – 288 pages) reads like a conversation with your buddies.  The full color photos in the travel guide will have you thinking about summer and is sure to get your enthusiasm up for the open road.

This is an update to his popular first edition and riders can learn from the 30+ trips that Hansen has planned which includes topographical maps for each trip, specific directions, and tips on the best places to eat, sleep, and visit.

Hansen guides riders through the areas around Seattle and Portland, up and down the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and northern California, around the volcanoes’ of Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Rainier, across the desert of Oregon, out to the San Juan Islands, and over the border into parts of British Columbia.  When not riding Mr. Hansen teaches writing through Portland State University.

It’s a favorite among motorcycle enthusiasts and I wanted to pass it along.  You can pick up your copy HERE on Amazon.

Photo courtesy of Whitehorse Press/Bruce Hansen.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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