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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Well...part Harley!

I am the third owner (so I was told). My trike was built in Minn. for a woman with a bad back who sold it to a lady in Florida. She married a sailor and they moved to Vallejo, CA. When they bought a pair of Harleys she sold it to me.

I’ve had it since 2001 and love it more and more. When I worked at the California Maritime Academy the kids loved it and it opened up a line of communication that might not have been available otherwise.

It is 1/2 Volkswagen and 1/2 Harley. Now what would you call that?

A Vorley, a Harlwagon, a Harvolk?


Monday, March 22, 2010

Friends Don't Let Friends Ride Alone

Friends don’t let friends ride alone, so Dave L. said, “Where do you want to ride this weekend, I was thinking about Coupeville.” Larry laughed and said he was thinking the same thing. So Dave sent out an email to a few friends and asked if they wanted to join in for a lunch ride. Mt. Baker Chapter HOG rides have not officially started yet but most of the members have been riding with groups of friends anyway because the weather has been so nice for this time of year--even better with heated gear. Have I mentioned before how much I enjoy my new heated jacket liner and gloves?

After the HOG meeting Thursday night, Greg Head, the new owner of Mt. Baker Harley-Davidson asked a small group of us who were still milling around laughing and talking, where we were riding this weekend (Greg has been reading the tri glide Facebook page and blog so he knows about our adventures). Coupeville was the answer and Greg said he would like to join us. Greg hasn’t had a chance to do a lot of riding since buying the dealership, hiring new employees, and moving his family to Bellingham, so this will be a chance experience some new roads and places he can show his family.

Larry and I headed out on Saturday morning about 9:15 AM to gas up the bike before arriving at the shop, because you always show up for a ride with a full tank. Wow! There was almost no room to park; what a great sight. Coffee and donuts and we were ready to ride. Fifteen bikes with four up when we rolled out of Bellingham and down Chuckanut Drive (Joan and Angie on their first big group ride and Shelia on her brand new one day old CVO street glide), our favorite route south and one we never get tired of. We stopped at the gas station on highway 20 to take a break and call ahead to the Tyee to make lunch reservations before continuing on.

Dave L. decided we would have to wait until we saw how many sightseers were at Deception Pass to decide if we could stop on the way to lunch or the way back. It must have been our lucky day because there were about three car lengths of open space and another car pulling out on the north side of the bridge, so we pulled over for photos. Almost no wind, lots of sunshine, and not a lot of people, made for a perfect spot to stop. This was not the case on the other side of the bridge which was packed with cars and camera toting visitors everywhere.

We were almost through Oak Harbor when a cage decided to squeeze into our group and stayed there all the way to Coupeville. I’m not sure why anyone would want to position their car in the middle of a large group of motorcycles and then proceed to ride up on the bikes in front of them and stay close to their fenders.

As we rode along, there were fields and pastures with chickens pecking for spring bugs (at lunch I was told today is the first day of spring, the Vernal Equinox 12:32 PM), a pinto horse was rolling back and forth in a green field enjoying the sun, and later someone asked what type sheep has little horns; and being the farmers we are not, Larry declared they were “Little Horned Sheep.” There were also several eagle sightings which always causes the group to point them out for following bikes. Dave and Dawn were not able to ride with us today, but drove down to meet us for lunch at the Tyee Restaurant. Our group left Bellingham late and because of this Dave and Dawn arrived, had lunch, and were ready to head for home by the time our group did get there. We had a chance to visit with them for a few minutes before they needed to get head back home.

Fish and chips was the overwhelming favorite lunch item and the staff served us quickly for such a large group. Lunch was over and the group was going to break up along the way. Dave L. dropped Jan off at her mother's in Coupeville and took a scenic route with Ron J. and Lorri around Madrona Way along the water before heading home. Shelia and Peter headed straight for the freeway after we crossed Deception Pass and the rest of the group turned off highway 20 to take the back roads to La Conner and on to Conway where we stopped for a break.

Back on the road to Big Lake and Gunderson Road where Angie and Ken left us to head home. The remaining group took a side trip down Gunderson Road to Clear Lake, and Sedro-Woolley where Bill and Marla peeled off and that left six bikes heading to Acme for a pit stop. Peanuts and cold drinks and it was time to head for home. Rick, Joan, and Greg stayed on Mt. Baker Highway heading into Bellingham, while Dave M., Lorie, Gary, Larry, and I took off at Smith Road for Ferndale where we all split up.

Larry and I made it back to Ferndale in time to attend the 6:00 PM church services. Dave M. asked, when we were in Acme, if we were really going to go to church on the bike wearing leathers and we said yes. When your pastor (Bob Marvel at Cornwall Church) rides a Harley, why wouldn’t you. The trike did get a lot of attention in the designated motorcycle parking right in front of the church. Besides, the church greeters are always super friendly when we arrive in biker clothing...every time they enthusiastically say, "Welcome to Cornwall" as if we had never been there before!

This is why friends don’t let friends ride alone-- it’s much more fun sharing the ride, the food, scenery and conversation with friendly, like-minded Harley folks.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Sunday Afternoon Ride

When I was younger and lived at home with my parents, we attended church on Sunday mornings and then went home and had a special Sunday supper my mom would leave slow cooking in the oven when we left for church. After lunch we would often take a Sunday afternoon drive before attending church again in the evening. My dad never had a destination in mind, we would just start driving and when a road looked interesting, that’s where we went. Twist and turns, lots of new scenery, and an occasional stop for a soda pop, my favorites were Dr. Pepper, Nehi grape, cream soda, or orange crush.

When I was old enough to drive, my dad would give me the keys to his Chevy three speed on the column, paneled utility truck and a tank of gas and I was free to explore my own surroundings of the county I grew up in, as long as I was home for Sunday evening church services. I learned to use a stick shift, use a clutch, build a trusting relationship with my parents, and a love for discovering what is down that road that I have never been on and looks so interesting.

Larry and I attend church on Saturday evenings and that leaves most of Saturday and all day Sunday to ride and explore. Several of our friends couldn’t ride Sunday due to various reasons, so it was just two couples with a late morning start after leisurely reading the paper and having the appropriate cups of coffee, which in my case is two.

We stopped to gas up the bike and meet up with Dave and Lorie at their house since we both live in Ferndale. Gary, their neighbor, our friend, and fellow HOG member walked down to chat before we headed out for the day. Gary would have been riding with us, but he thought just maybe the weather forecasters would be correct this time so he put his bike in the shop to get its 1,000 mile check up.

We didn’t have a plan except to stay in Whatcom County because while it wasn’t a bright sunny warm day, it was not dark and gray as we looked south at the potential for rain. We headed out at a sightseeing pace on Smith Road, Noon Road, and then Mt. Baker Highway. Over the hill, down to Silver Beach, around Lake Louise Rd., and Park Rd. to The Blue Mountain Grill.

We arrived just in time for Larry to order from the breakfast menu while the rest of us had lunch. Just as our food was being served Sky stopped by our table to talk about vacations, bikes, future travel plans, work, and his kids. We had a nice visit before he headed out on his Kawasaki (this is his 3rd bike, #1 being a Harley, and #2 a Ducati) for his Sunday afternoon ride.

After lunch we headed towards Kendall, South Pass, North Pass, various roads in-between, Everson for a pit stop, and then looking at the clouds we decided not to push our luck and just head for home. Half way around the county for a Sunday afternoon is not bad. As we left Everson we passed a field of sheep and the Ewes had already had baby lambs. One tiny little guy with black wool looked like he was only days old. Good thing he had a warm coat on because the temperature was starting to drop.

We waved good-bye to Lorie and Dave when we returned to Ferndale and we headed through town and up the hill towards home. It started to sprinkle just as we pulled in our driveway--great timing!

Pleasant Little Ride and Some Great Tasting Bison:

It’s Saturday morning and expected to rain. Will it or won’t it? I can’t stand being cooped up any more so I’ll take a chance and ride. A few eagle sightings, very little traffic, and an hour out-and-about in Whatcom County with a stop at Twisted S Bison for some pepperoni sticks--the owner is a former Harley guy and offered me his Dodge pickup in exchange for my Tri deal!!
A great way to clear out the cobwebs.

The heated gear is great but I forgot my face covering so it was a little chilly.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Sun Brought Out the Song on this Adventure

Zippity doo dah, Zippity aye,

My oh my what a wonderful day

Plenty of sunshine coming my way,

Zippity doo dah, Zippity aye.

Zippity doo hah was the song in my head as we rode out of town on the way to meet friends for a Saturday Harley ride. The sun was shining, my heated gear was on, and I could almost remember the warmth while walking at Daytona Beach, strolling on the Promenade at San Diego, or playing bocce ball in my sister’s backyard in CA. It was going be another great day in paradise.

We met up at the Shell station at Alger and this time we were the first to arrive. Larry tried to tell me the night before we needed to leave at 8:45 AM and when I questioned the early hour he gave me another 30 minutes before departure. As it was Dave L. and Jan arrived last and later in the day he said if we all really wanted to start leaving at 10:00 AM, we could do that. Nah! That would just mean leaving earlier than we already do to arrive a half hour before departure. Better to be early than pull in as the group is leaving or holding them up while we fill up.

We headed out on Colony Road to Chuckanut Drive, then through Edison and Bay View State Park, highway 20 to Anacortes, Marine Drive to Mt. Erie. We passed pastures full of sheep still wearing their winter coats and horses covered in blankets and I could empathize with them not wanting to be cold. We had a little valley fog when we started but by the time we arrived at the top of Mt. Erie we had the most beautiful view of Mt. Baker and Burrows Bay, out towards Deception Pass, and Simik Bay. The road itself wasn’t too bad on the way to the top of Mr. Erie but some tight corners and cages that wouldn’t give an inch made a few turns long and slow.

It was 60 steps down to the viewing platform from the parking lot for a picture perfect shot of Mt. Baker; perfect except for the lone tree, which we all agreed needed to be topped off or taken down. 60 steps back up and we found the “level” picture perfect viewing platform. Oh well, I can at least say I had my exercise for the day.

Dave M. has a new nickname, double “DD”, but you will have to ask him what the ”DD” stands for.

We took the back roads and slowly wound our way into La Conner for lunch. We managed to find parking the first time through town--and all four bikes/trike together. Now where to eat? Because of the unseasonably good weather, there were more tourists in town probably drawn to the area because the daffodils and tulips will likely be all gone before the tulip festival ever starts; so everyone is coming up to view them now. We all have our favorites and sometimes it’s hard to go someplace new to eat. Not everyone welcomes bikers and not every restaurant has good food at reasonable prices, especially La Conner.

We decided to take a chance on the Waterfront Café. Dave M. helped the waitress arrange the tables on the patio so we could sit outside in the sunshine (cool but not windy and with jackets on it was delightful). Drinks ordered, food ordered, now it was time to sit back, relax and visit with friends. And we waited and chatted. And waited. They were short handed and not prepared for a busy weekend and we were patient. Larry’s hamburger and my BLT arrived (wrong BLT, but she insisted it was the right order). You sort of feel guilty eating when no one else has their food. We joked and laughed as I gave Dave M. my tomatoes (he loves tomatoes) then I passed a French fry down to Dave L. Did I mention I think I need to change my husband Larry’s name to Dave? About 10 minutes later two more lunches arrived then a lull. Then a side salad and I realized Larry didn’t have his soup. Three more meals and then there was just Lorie waiting quietly for her lunch although hubby Dave was still waiting for his salad, mayo and salad dressing. We were almost through eating when the waitress told Lorie that they were out of what she ordered. Being short handed is no excuse for not serving all the meals at close to the same time and knowing what you are out of when you are taking orders. So we will cross off the Waterfront Café in LaConner on future trips and it will definitely will not get a biker friendly rating from this group.

We rode back through Bay View and Edison where Dave and Jan headed home and left the group. The rest of us went north up Chuckanut Drive, enjoying the twists and turns on a late winter afternoon day. In Bellingham Dave and Dawn headed for home, Larry and I went out Marine Drive and the back way to Ferndale, while Dave and Lorie headed to Mt. Baker Harley.

Rain was forecast for Sunday so we picked the right day to ride and Sunday was a warm fireplace kind of day with lots of hot coffee.

Friday, March 5, 2010

More on the Trike Class Adventure

I can swerve with abandon and the trike stops unbelievably fast when I really lay on the brakes! (That was the most illuminating thing I learned in the trike safety class. I've been avoiding locking up brakes for so many years that I really had to concentrate to lock up both rear and front brakes when instructed to do so. The slick machine just continues straight while stopping amidst smoke and wasted rubber.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Advanced Trike/Sidecar Course

Several folks wanted to know what I thought about the advanced course, so here’s a bit about it. Email me if you have specific questions:

There were only five of us in the class—two others, who had signed up, withdrew. This is ordinarily a one day course combining classroom presentations with driving on the range. However, due to the shortened daylight hours, rain, etc., management decided to split it up into a Friday evening classroom, Saturday driving on the course program.

Finding South Seattle Community College—where both the Friday and Saturday activities were held—was a snap due to the nice lady residing inside my GPS giving me precise and strict directions. I turned when she said to do so and I fretted when she was dismayed at my stupidity, demonstrated when I went by her designated corner, forcing her to “recalculate” and give me U-turn instructions.

At any rate, the Friday evening experience went until 9:30 PM. We worked our way through an instructional handbook provided by the instructors and, since we had such a small group, there was plenty of time to share experiences and ask specific questions. The evening ended with a 50 question written exam covering material from the discussions and the handbook. I missed one question—something about when to lean into a curve when driving a sidecar rig…oh, well, 98% was acceptable.

In our group we had one other person with a Tri Glide, one on a BMW sidecar rig, one with a brand new Cam-Am Spyder that has two wheels up front with one very large rear driving wheel, and one young woman riding a scooter trike with a canopy that went from front to rear with two wheels on the rear and a tiny front wheel. These trikes/sidecar all handled the course differently and I enjoyed watching the various capabilities of the machines and their riders.

We experienced locking up both front and rear brakes in a “panic”/controlled stop—and that was psychologically difficult for me to do, at first (I’m used to working hard to NEVER lock up the brakes on my previous two-wheeled bikes); stopping fast without locking up, swerving around a barrier at faster and faster speeds, riding in figure eights around pylons and staying close but not hitting the cones, and a few other fun activities rounded out the day. Learning to intentionally make the rear wheels slide around a corner (by accelerating while also lightly breaking the front wheel) was a new thing for me and kind of a neat new skill.

At the end of several hours doing this for practice, we were individually evaluated doing it for real. All of us “passed” and were awarded the Advanced Trike/Sidecar Course certificate along with a nice sticker/decal for our helmets. Again, I earned only one demerit--because I wasn’t going fast enough into one braking exercise. All in all, not bad for an old guy.

I skipped the basic trike/sidecar course since I had taken both basic and experienced rider courses on my two-wheelers, and have put a few hundred miles on the trike, gaining some experience and competence on this strange handling machine. I had hoped for a bit more of a challenging “advanced” course; I’m pretty sure that the stopping, swerving and other exercises were probably the same activities experienced in the basic course. I guess the greatest value in the course for me was learning more about the Tri Glide’s capabilities in cornering and stopping.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mama Don't Get Dressed Up For Nothing

The email asked who wanted to ride to Mt. Baker Lake on Sunday.

The second email arrived: MeMeMeMe!!!!!!!

So I responded in song also: Do re mi fa so la ti….yes we will be there

Then Larry responded: An entirely civilized time to start a ride (10:30 AM)! We'll be there...

So that is how our Sunday ride adventure began.

My heated gear arrived Thursday and Larry picked it up for me at Mt. Baker H-D. Six weeks of waiting and I was excited to try it out. I had to take the lining out of my heavy duty leather coat to accommodate the new heated liner and that took a few minutes to figure out the night before.

 Buff on
 Neck wrap on (double sided hand made by Kaye)
 Helmet plugged in
 Gloves plugged into the jacket
 Jacket plugged into the controls
 Controls on
 Gloves on
 Jacket on
 Ready

No one in our group likes to be late. At ten minutes before 10:00 AM we were approaching the Alger turn off and Larry said we are going to be a little early and asked if I wanted to take a short ride and return around 10:30? No I told him, let’s just top off the tank, get some water and wait for the group. Ha-ha. Dave M, Dave J. and Dawn were just finishing topping off their tanks as we drove into the Shell station and as we finished filling our tank and pulled around, Dave L. and Jan pulled in.

Maps out, consultations finished about roads and routes and we were off. I have never been to Mt. Baker Lake so this would be a great day for me to see new sights. I’ve never had lunch in Concrete either so this would be another first for me. But before lunch, we stopped in Concrete to see Rob Tygret and his new Eagles In Flight motorcycle repair shop that will open in just three weeks. Rob’s dad and mom gave us a short tour and told us about their future plans for the business--coffee and ice-cream, consignment and custom bike sales--and Rob arrived and showed us the new workshop out back. They have a lot of enthusiasm and we wish them well in their new adventure in life and I am sure we will be stopping in, while going to or from Winthrop, to say hi and savor a hot coffee or cold ice cream depending on the weather. We had lunch at the Red Cedar Inn before heading up the mountain.

What I noticed riding this morning was the difference in the way I sat on the bike. On previous cold or semi-cold days when I layered on everything I could get on and still zip up the coat, I tended to slump down behind Larry and use him as a windbreak to cut out the chill of riding. Today, being surrounded in the warmth of my new liner and gloves (I only had the heat turned up about ¼ of the way), I sat up straighter, and enjoyed sightseeing.

We rode up to, and across, the Upper Baker Dam and parked on the other side to walk back and take pictures. The water level of the lake was down about anywhere from 30-50 feet. Looking off the other side of the dam you looked into a ravine that was at least 300 feet down. From the dam you could see snow covered Mt. Baker towering to a majestic 10,775 ft and Mount Shuksan to 9,127 ft.

The group split in Sedro-Woolley where Dave L. and Jan broke off to head to Scooter's for the store closing party, and the rest of us headed home towards the freeway. It was another day in paradise riding with friends.

After working all week at his day job, Larry drove to Seattle on Friday afternoon to attend an advanced trike safety class. Friday night was 3 hours of classroom work and 5 hours on the course riding on Saturday. He made it through the Friday traffic with the help of his GPS, found his hotel, found the community college where the class was being held, and he decided to eat at the hotel; however, the restaurant was closed and vending machine food would have to hold him over until after class. He arrived back at his hotel at 10:15 PM and the restaurant had closed AGAIN and he was too tired to drive around looking for food so he called it a night. Next morning he found a Denny’s before class and had a good breakfast. After a few hours of driving in circles, stopping and swerving really quickly, and doing other trike training stuff at a South Seattle Community College parking lot, came the long ride home--and Larry was ready to kick back and relax for the rest of the weekend! Then the email arrived about the Sunday ride and I was ready to go; so, of course Larry was too.

I had a new heated liner and gloves and I wanted to try them out. And being the good husband that he is, he gave up his Sunday morning of watching the Olympics, drinking coffee, reading the paper, and gearing up for another week at work.
I don’t think Larry ever thought when we bought our first bike that I would be the one to say let’s go every chance we got; and now that I can ride in warmth, that should really put the fear into him.

Now I started this off with the title of "Mama don’t get dressed up for nothing" which is a Brooks and Dunn song. Think of the tune but replace the lyrics:

She said hey big boy get off that couch
There’s a ride going on and we going too
I got my new jacket liner and gloves to match
I’m ready to ride so let’s get moving
You’re the man of the house, you can’t be tired
‘Cause mama don’t get dressed up for nothing

I’ve been cooped up in the house all week long
Coughing and sneezing, get me outta here
Saddle up hoss it’s your luck day
We’re going out with our friends
To Baker and back

We’re gonna find a little place where the Eagles Fly
We’re gonna stomp our boots down at The Red Cedar Inn
Ride to the dam listening to rock and roll music
Shoot shots of Mt. Baker and Mount Shuksan too
We’re gonna turn up the heat and keep right on riding
Cause mama don’t get dressed up for nothing
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