Saturday, December 30, 2017

Showtime NYC

The Javits center went the length of the block, like a glass ship in wet dock ready to be released into the Hudson. Manhattan was under construction with scaffold and skip lifts covering steel structures hooked to the bedrock below. Surrounded by every major brand BMW Motorrad stood tall at the 2017 Progressive Motorcycle Show in New York City. Each company put forth their best interpretation of what a GS would be. Riders gravitated to the 850 GS with its ocean blue matte finish and it’s iso-mounted multifunction display. It looked like it was ready to snap saplings on singletracks in the whilliwacks. “Say Braaap” I yelled taking a picture of a future owner. The R1200GSP faced the flank on its centerstand. A tactical tool fit to rip like a heat seeking missile with criminals in its crosshairs. Riders threw their leg over an RR and were fitted with VR goggles to go for their own ride. While the factory race bike remained on a rotating platform unmolested by the throngs dragging their heels on every panier they could. Pack mentality ruled for local biker gangs. Hells Angels, Gunslingers, Outlaws, all tatted up walking in packs with name and rank displayed on vest front. They lingered longer at the custom bike builds that surrounded the exhibits picking one to vote for on their smartphones (no longer a contradiction), than they did at the K1600B bagger. On her side stand the bagger was black as night. Black as squid ink ready to leave the pack behind vanishing on the horizon with a sliver of silver reflecting headlights that pass. 18 year old Grace MacIntosh mounted the 310GS. This time she would be no pillion. This time it is her ride, not on Dad’s back carving his way through the Tail of the Dragon. “What you do you think about BMW dropping the weight and CC range” I asked. “I love it, I love it alot” she replied, “It means I might actually be able to get a bike”. She went on: “I like that it’s really inexpensive, and that I could actually afford it. I like the fact that it is small but also peppy, I feel like it can get around and keep up with bigger bikes, which is cool “ she laughed. “Is this the kind of bike that can keep dad and daughter together?” I asked. “Hopefully yeah” She laughed. Grace’s Dad let her enjoy the moment he looked on in proud silence. This was a true rite of passage.

A television show was being shot on stage while crowds poured over brands and vendors. I got a chance to visit with Mike Buckley from Dunlop. I shared with him how excited I was about the prospect of the Road Smart 3 tire. I have had a habit of premature tire wear with a couple other brands. I would like to think that it is the crowned roads of VT that are so hard on rubber, but it probably has more to do with my right hand. Access to industry is one of the real benefits of attending a show like the Progressive. It is also a great opportunity to try on helmets, gloves, and jackets for the first time. No two bodies are alike, I tried the Sportmodular helmet from AGV. I explained the unique problem this product would solve for me to the factory rep. I travel across the border into Canada to see my close friends, with a modular, I will be able to leave my helmet on, and satisfy the customs agents need to see my face. Between my glasses, gloves and all the other gear helmet removal takes a lot of time. The agent usually says “take as long as you need”. It is a bit uncomfortable with traffic stacked up behind me. I also stopped to talk with Long Haul Paul Pelland and had to wait my turn. A tall rider with brown hair and a red sweater stood in silence. When he began to speak the noise of the show ceased. “I have had MS for twelve years” he said to Paul without crying. “I know what you are doing, by visiting patients in the hospital”. Pelland has found his purpose in life riding all over the country raising money to fight MS. “I once was told a cure for MS was a million miles away, so I figured I would just go and get it, and bring it back”. I did come home with a new pair of gloves from the show. My oldest daughter put them on the morning after I got home. She thought they looked like gloves for a superhero. That’s just fine with me.

Javits Center NYC

Ready for patrol

Grace MacIntosh

Long Haul Paul's licence plate

My little Super hero 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Until Next Spring

Like the little death, fun is now over.
Winter turns shoulders with white lines under blankets of snow.
Sand and salt scratch the backs of tar snakes
who's slither and bite have slowed.
Gone the scent of hot rubber in the sun,
that peculiar flavor of gasoline,
that cherished tear while we turn our back to a circle of friends and ride home.
Asphalt swells and heaves with tectonic cracks.
Shutter no more, the warm blanket of bliss is pulled from your form...
Until next spring.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Friday, August 11, 2017

Interview with Brent Powers (19 min)

Powers and Rossier before our course correction by THE LAW,   somewhere in ME
Sandy Marincic and Powers as the Hermit looks on

Powers, putting M. LeVangie in stitches

Powers and Bear,  Hermit island, ME

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Iron John

Press play below for 25 min of audio with Iron John.

Left to right: Bear LeVangie, Iron John, Eric Rossier and the Hermit

On the pier, Bucksport,  ME

SENA install, Hermit Island, ME

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tupperware Party

     It was time to change the air filter on my 2009 R1200RT Joy. I had the new part in stock and watched a short you tube video on the procedure. One thing that surprised me was how tough the air tube detent held the air tube to the frame. It took a lot of pressure to pop it free. I was being careful as it was the first time I took her tupperware off. I was able to floss the inside of the tube by using an old t shirt. The stuck on debris would not release with compressed air. The words of Jeffrey Curran came to mind as I was installing the last few screws: "People that own these bikes and don't work on them are really missing out on one of the best parts of being an owner".   

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Guild Tavern

The restaurant wraps around the kitchen.   To your right and up a level, a large dining room.   Hard to the left, comfy chairs have customers sinking in with a cocktail in their hand next to the fireplace.  Left and back guest seating flanks the kitchen.   Straight ahead: the bar.  The scent of wood fire and beef fat off the grill transport you to a carnal place engaging a hunger deep within.  Our 7:15 reservation was made through open table.   We showed up almost an hour early and sat the bar and had drinks.    I had a well Vodka martini, dirty shaken with olives.   The well vodka was Luksusowa,  very nice.   My wife was not super impressed with her house red Merlot blend.   Our tender provided us with samples of recent award winning and rare  Hill Farmstead and Lawson's Finest beers.   Even though the bar was starting to get busy the tender and bar back were efficient, friendly and still had time to visit as side note they were professional and seemed to take their occupation seriously.   The Hill Farmstead beer was a favorite.   It was very interesting having the lupulin citrus hop notes without the bitterness or off flavors.   Our tender explained that this brewery was famous for just that.  Although I am a malt man the hop expanded horizon was a great add to our special night.  When we got to the table on time of the reservation we ordered the poutine.    I love poutine.   I have made it,  I have ordered it all over Montreal and this offering was VT locavore specific.    How about fresh rosemary in the sauce?  Gravy was clear and not heavy,  the cheese curds melted into the mass with the heat of the fries.   Oh baby.  Nice work.   I ordered the ribeye rare with the squash and my wife ordered the NY strip with the roasted veggies.    The steaks came with fire roasted whole naked red onion rings.   At the base of the plate was a fresh herb and olive oil drizzle that paired well with each bite.   One odd mix up was that my wife's steak came rare and mine was medium.    We are real easy going and just swapped plates,  and cuts.  They were both fantastic.

If you go:

Guild Tavern  $$$
1633 Williston Road, S. Burlington, Vermont 05403

My dollar system:
$:I got this
$$:  I still got it let me tell my wife.
$$$: Lets go Dutch
$$$$: We’d better call Uncle Curt.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Go No Go

The night before I washed and packed my gear.    Printed my interview questions as a back up and made room on my zoom mic by deleting the last audio file.  The plan was: drive to work, with my bike loaded for the weekend.   Leave the rock quarry at 5:00 pm for Montreal,  and make it back for the LeVangie interview Saturday night.  
My MPQ memories have become vignettes.   Rapid style flashbacks fit for vine with six seconds of reel.  They are filled with empty concrete sky ways that overlap and fold into long underground tunnels.  Filled with the sound of my boxer's bark echoing.  They are filled with sunrise roll outs in the city that frosts your visor with morning sharpness.

You know that you are in the process of making a bad decision when you begin bargaining with yourself.  Friday morning first thing,  I thought it would be safer not to stop for any coffee or a breakfast sandwich at the convenience store. I better just drive to work.  Instead of the normal way I'll take the road that has less tar snakes it's less likely to have frozen precipitation on it. The first thing that caught my eye when I exited the door was the spin out that I did on the grass.  I slammed my foot down to the glistening green surface to keep the loaded bike from dropping on its first change of direction.  That's not normal I thought, how very odd.   It didn't  do that when it was heavy frost.  And yeah as I ran the my finger on the windshield of my wife's van I realized:  “hey this all looks green light to me”.  I turned the corner out of my gravel driveway and onto a leaf covered gravel road 9/10 to the highway where I waited for traffic to pass knowing they  would probably just pass me anyway while we were descending the hill.

As I rode in the ink of early morning frozen fall blackness my memory played cautionary tales over and over like the out takes of an eight millimeter wind up Warren Miller film.  Now, in my mind’s eye,  I could see one of my Maritime moto friends we will call Liam.   I thought about his ride in Arizona and bad decisions.  He climbed up the tar highway towards a mountain peak passing the flashing road sign warning cagers of the steep fine for unchained tires.   For them, the chain monkeys stood at the side of the road waiting like Danika Patrick's pit crew pocketing $20 for installing all four in what seemed like seconds.   Liam and his mate passed a bunch of hotels for one reason or the other he didn't like the look of or the layout of the next one or the posted cost or the parking lot and rode on and up in elevation.  Maybe they were full, maybe they weren't and then all of a sudden black ice is underneath them.    Down they both went with two freshly rented RT's in the kind of slow motion that made grandfather clocks pendulums halt.  The kind of slow motion where you hear the music.   Opera music.   Not a good sign.  They dropped to the ground and flopped like shiny helmeted fish just pulled onto the ice through a day ending 8 inch auger hole.

Now Liam is one tough son of a bitch.    Stone cold precision.  He put the rock drills on a coal seam in Newfoundland after the  engineers and geologists told him where the coal  was to no avail.  He just did it the old-fashioned way with persistence and common sense. Liam had the boys drilling test holes in growing rings. Just like that, the pile of rock dust in the dust collector of the rock drill went from red to black . Well the coal seam started out small ended up running for 10 miles and so.  It was long enough for Liam to retire early.

As I sat across from him at the diner table I had no inclination that that he was as old as he was (eighty).  It was as if hard work had sustained his tone and youthfulness instead of weathering him away. What pressure crushed some rocks turned others into gems.  Older, wiser, next time would Liam turn his GO to a NO?

Still Friday morning, still going down hill, my clothes fit good under the stitch and everything seem real tight and nice but I really also realized very quickly that visibility was decreasing and the temperature of the tire snakes had approached an unsafe level. Sprinkles of precipitation now bounced from my visor.  New England roads get repaired and Vermont roads specifically in cracks from the heaving frost get repaired with this tire snake.   No friend of two wheels the snake is sometimes slippery when hot but very slippery when frozen and cold.  As I hit the tar snakes not visible by my low beam light the bike slid from side to side upright still OK.

In the helicopter we had this thing where if you heard a noise and felt vibration that was accompanied by a chip light you have three things stacking up against you and it was time to get the ship on the ground safely without delay.  You had reached an emergency.   My bike would dip and slide into the trough worn by wheel tracks.  Here I was with very low visibility slipping on tar snakes and I had that sinking feeling in my gut of impending doom just below my diaphragm.  I heard a voice very clearly say: "it will be better if you turn around here right now. ". As I rounded a turn and headed back uphill up in elevation my head hung low like a dog with a cone that had returned from the vets.   MPQ will have to wait because this year it's going to be on four wheels.  As I climbed the corners I knew the New Haven river was at my right although it was not visible in the inky blackness.  Heavy precipitation varied from solids to droplets. Stacks of wet leaves separated me from the guardrail as I continue to climb around the corners.  I felt like I wasn't worthy to have my iron butt license plate cover on my bike. It was humiliating to make the no go decision.   Like the veteran long distance rider who finally was done in not by a driver drunk or sober or some cell phone idiot but their own hemorrhoids.  For the first time in a long time,  I was late to work.  

I parked my car in the lot across the street from Ron's building.   A red bricked concrete structure referred to as the McGill apartments from the number of university students that rent there.  Inside, on the 6th floor,  Anna had a dirty Stoli martini waiting for me.   Their apartment looked out over Rue William north east to the circus tent like spars and sags of Jacques Cartier bridge.  Laying in bed I heard a roar from the window.   A Ferrari and a Porsche were lined up at a light.    My boxer was tucked in for the night 3 hours south.    But each failure has an opportunity.    Tomorrow I would ride one of Ron's two bikes. “Choose cautiously”  He said.   “One of them is my mistress”.   Just like that the chance to ride a new BMW, Ron’s daily commuter was at hand.  What a friend,  what a host.  Thank you Ron Dawson for making my weekend a GO.  


Above: The old Port Photo: Ron Dawson

Ron’s place Photo: Ron Dawson


Green for GO: Happy boy. Photo: Ron Dawson

Dawson's Mistress, Montreal PQ

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Gear

After the shopping is done and plans are set,  trees are trimmed and wrapping is done there is a pause before the storm of Christmas.   Surrounded by family and the whir of wrapping paper being shredded by my four year old and her younger sister on Christmas morning I sat with a gift in my lap.   My wife got me the one thing that I asked for this year:  a Moto-Skiveez technical riding shirt.   
     In my whitewater kayaking years I was notorious for having old gear, crap gear, and sometimes no gear at all.   I showed up to the put in for the Mad river one day to find that I did not have a bathing suit in my gear box.   My girlfriend at the time (Steph,  now my wife) thought it was funny that without a beat,  I just ran the river bare-assed.  My thought was that there was no way I was going to swim and I didn't need to scout or walk any of the rapids.  My rash guards never dried, and developed a mushroom fragrance.   I remember hanging gear on multi day early spring camping trips only to find that they had frozen stiff during the cold temps of the night.    Into the truck the wet gear went on the floor where the spray top and fleece shirts ceased to be stiff, and now just plain stunk in a pile of season long sweat and memories.   My English friend Chambers always had a fire at the camp site.   Chambers was a Royal Commando during his British military service.   He warmed bottles of red wine on the fire grate rotating them to keep the glass from sagging.   You can imagine that warm red wine left quite an impression on chilly coeds.   Let's just say it hit the spot as the heat of the day was replaced with the cold of night.   On my solo white water trip to Colorado, Utah and Wyoming I biffed the put in otter slide to big Gore on the Colorado River,  surrounded by experts and full time unemployed paddlers.   The 40 foot gravel slide was the easiest way to get to the river for the long flat water paddle down stream to the continuous class 4 and some class 5 water.  The mud at the river bank proved too sticky for me, out of shape and side ways my boat hit the mud at full speed and 7 feet short of the river I barrel rolled (not breaking my paddle) cutting my right forearm and my Kokatat dry top.    As I wrapped my right fore arm in duct tape to keep the water out I saw blood running out the wrist gasket.   This once nice piece of paddling gear would be forever referred to as the not so dry top.   Despite a blown skirt on the outlet of the namesake rapid: Gore,  I hit my roll on the 3rd attempt.   I saw 3 guys swim that day when their fiber glass paddles blew up at the joint in the middle.  I ran that piece of leaking gear the rest of the season and shipped it out for factory repair when my 2 month trip was over.  The trip has always come first.    In motorcycling I bought the least expensive Joe Rocket jacket my first year on my BMW.  I wore it and blue Jeans with a 20 year old hand me down snowmobile helmet similar gear to what I ran on my sportster 883.   Even when I upgraded my helmet to my current Simpson Outlaw Bandit,  I still rode to the 2014 MOA national in blue jeans,  not exactly all the gear all the time (ATGATT).   
     I was standing around the picnic table of the Puppy Dog ride dinner nursing a salt and seaweed beer that was a miss from the hop radicals at Lost Nation.  The PDR is my Vermont charter clubs boarder to boarder 2 day ride on dirt roads.  A fellow rider and the club VP's Dad: David Brosnahan came up to me leaning in to say:   "You're a 44L aren't you?"  "Why yes I am" I replied.   I had used the Aerostitch size calculator to come up with my size.   I had been shopping on craigslist for a used riding suit at various cities across the US.  "Are you still looking for a stitch?" David asked.  "Yes,  absolutely" I replied.    "I have one for you" He said.  "Yes great, I'll buy it" I said,  "How much".    "Well" he goes,  I just sent it out for factory zipper replacement.   "Three hundred?" Martha his wife said.   "No" Dave replied turning to look at her,  "that's too much".    Just like that,  my favorite piece of motorcycle gear found me.  Dave called me to see if he could drop my new to me Roadcrafter two piece at my work in Middlebury, VT.   "You want to drive up from outside Keene, NH to deliver me the suit at work?" I asked.  "Well" Dave said: "Lake Carmi weekend is coming up and it is calling for rain,  I want you to have it."   "How about this", I asked: "Why don't you ride up to my house,  spend the night and I will cook you and your son dinner."  
In Stitches

The first night of the 2015 Green Mountain Rally my brother Tyler was getting ready for bed.  Ron Dawson and Sandy Marincic filled the remainder of the sparse 4 bunk cabin.  Camp Thorpe is a historic summer camp for children with special needs.   My local charter club the BMW Motorcycle Owners of Vermont rents the property each September for our largest event.  Lucky enough to book a cabin,  I had one unused bed left after my two wheeled friends from Canada committed to attend.   My non motorcycling brother Tyler liked the sound of our "Ride to Eat" motto.   After dinner Ty thought it best to tuck in for the night.  He then realized that there were no sheets or blankets on the cots.   I ended up giving him my sleeping bag thinking that I was going to get much less sleep from all of the late night time visiting with far off friends.   So I come in from the bonfire having had just enough to drink and I decide that I can drape clothes over me to stay warm. Let's just say that Friday night was no good.  Dehydration,  pounding headache and waking up freezing,  barefoot and pulling fleece shirts over different parts of me.  During the morning incident review it was determined by engineering (Ron Dawson) that I had left my best option for a warm nights sleep on the floor: my Aerostitch Roadcrafter!  Well let me tell you,  Saturday night was a horse of a different color.   After similar dedication to fireside festivities three of us headed back to the cabin late night to find Tyler snoring away.   I put on my riding boots and stepped into my stitch.  Then I put my helmet on for effect thinking about John Ryan sleeping bare back on the concrete floor of a car wash for 15 min.  My helmet proved to be too warm.   I woke up refreshed Sunday morning and headed to breakfast.   The LeVangie twins were already seated at one of the round tables in the mess hall.  "Wow",  Bear said: "You are up and ready to go, you are all dressed".  "Not really" I said.   "I slept in it."  And cue the dimple skeptical look. 

New Gear

There are a number of things special about the Moto-Skiveez performance riding shirt.  The mesh fabric seen in the photo above enhances air flow to promote cooling while riding under protective clothing.  It is cut to be in the riding position.   Thumb holes in the sleeves help you pull your suit on over it without the sleeves riding up.   I can't tell you how great the shirt is as I have just received it and although it is 35 degrees and sunny here in VT,  the roads are a bit icy.  I am looking forward to riding on two wheels in the new year,  with this piece of new gear.   See you on the road, or at a rally, except this time I will be in my Skiveez.  


Blog author stoked with Christmas Gear

If you go: