Saturday, December 31, 2016

For auld lang syne, my friends 💖

Glancing in the rear-view at 2016
Well - here we are, another year older and hopefully wiser. Like everyone else, I like to take a quick review of the passing year. But in true Biker fashion, it'll be just a glance in the rear-view mirror!

Is it me or did this year go by fast? With the passing of so many celebrities this year it serves as a good reminder that our lives - celebrity status or not - are all too short. So we've really got to live, laugh & love while we can!

Me & Nancy at Bonnie Castle for the NY H.O.G. Rally
And part of what living means to me is riding my motorcycle with friends. With the NY H.O.G. Rally being in Alexandria Bay this past July, I met lots of new riding buddies. A group of NNY H.O.G. and Fairfax, VA H.O.G. chapter members even rode down to the Baseball Hall of Fame (even though I live in NY, my team is the SF Giants, baby!!) 

Riding out to Boston for the H-D Annual Dealer Meeting and the reveal of their newest motor: the Milwaukee-Eight.
Trying the new Milwaukee-Eight motor

Thanks to the Watertown Chrome Divas & Azz Dogs - they rode along with me and helped lead the Red Cross Ride. 

Last but not least I froze my butt riding out to meet Adam Sandoval & Scooter of #ScootinAmerica. ICYMI Adam was on a quest to ride around the lower 48, going to every Harley-Davidson dealership to raise money for Veterans Families and the Wounded Warrior Project.

As part of the New Year's traditions, I asked the guys
Me, Adam & Scooter
I work with if they had any resolutions. Usually they don't, but if they do it's to ride more miles - which is the only resolution I have.

Of course I'm already planning lots of rides for 2017 - I just hope I can fit them all in!! I'd love to go to the H-D Museum, which I can roll in with the National H.O.G. Rally. A little bit closer to me is the Revolution H.O.G. Rally. I can't forget the 10th Annual Ta-Ta Watertown Chrome Diva Ride! And since the Annual Dealer Meeting will be in LA, I'd love to ride most of Route 66 rather than fly (keeping my fingers crossed on that one!). 

As promised, that's it! Short and sweet. Now it's your turn: What riding did you do this year? Are you going to try and get more miles in 2017? Where do you hope to be riding to? Don't be shy!

And so, I'll close this last Life Behind Bars blog for 2016, from all of us at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson: Let's drink "a cup o'kindness yet, for auld lang syne!" Cheers!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

6 ways to easily customize any Harley

In just over 10 weeks we get to "Spring Forward"  which means the riding season will be soon after (at least for those of us up North). 

But we've got to get there from here first.... What's a Biker to do? At FX Caprara Harley-Davidson we like to Customize! (Check out the bike we're working on now.)

It can be as small as axle nut covers to as big as custom paint sets - it's all up to you. (And you can always ask Dennis or Kate in our Parts Department for advice!) One word of warning tho- once you start it's not easy to stop!

Now, if you're planning on using this as a reference on what to buy your significant other, please note you'll still need to know what year and model s/he has (i.e.: 2016 Road Glide Special or 2016 FLTRXS). BUT most Bikers tend to be real picky as to what they want on their bike, so unless they've said, "I want the Number One Skull Derby Cover," it's best to gift them a H-D Gift Card and let them pick it out themselves.

1) Mirrors, grips, levers and more.
Mirrors are very easy to put on - so simple I can do it! Levers moderately so, and grips a little bit more. But these are the little things people tend to notice as they get closer to your bike. Heated grips, no matter where you live, make riding nice when the weather turns cold!

2) Foot controls - floorboards & pegs, brake pedals, shifter knob and linkage.
Floorboards and foot pegs are more of a comfort item (at least they are for me!) and are easy to install. Brake pedals & shifter knobs are simple to put on too, but shifter linkage is a little more involved.

Harley even has entire hand & foot control collections -
the Slipstream Collection is just one.

3) Fuel tank: gas caps, knee pads, tank bras and more.
Providing the most surface area on the bike, the fuel tank (or air box with the V-Rod) is usually the first or second spot on the bike where one's eye goes to. Gas caps are pretty easy to put on, unless it's a flush mount or also has a fuel gauge built in.

4) Headlamp trim rings and visors.
If you're wanting to enter your bike in some bike shows, then it's the little things that will make the difference. That's where these come in - the aesthetic value outweighs the usefulness, but still it's a nice add on that shows you care about the look of your bike.

5) Air cleaner covers, derby/primary covers, timer covers.
The motor is generally the first part of a bike that most people look at, so it's a good place to start customizing. And, like the hand & foot control collections, Harley has collections so they can all match. Not saying they have to all match! Again, this is usually particular to the Biker who owns the bike. If you're getting a derby/primary cover, don't forget the gasket (sure you could re-use the old one, but that's like putting on the same underwear after a shower..... just saying).

6) Windshields, windshield bags and trim.
If you're bike doesn't have a windshield, you usually can get one that is detachable. Some even have windshield bags that will fit which make a handy place to store sunglasses, keys, etc. If your bike is from the touring family, then you can switch out your stock windshield for a "Wind Splitter", and maybe add a windshield bag (sometimes depends on the windshield). Windshield trim is a nice touch to really 'complete' the bike. 

So there you have it- six easy ways to customize your bike while the snow flies. That's one nice thing about living up North- taking advantage of the down time to work on my bike! Check out Harley's Inspiration Gallery for more ideas.

Monday, December 26, 2016

T'was the night before Christmas - the Biker version

Here's another Christmas Poem I came across the other day and, even though it's the day after, I'm going to share this now rather than wait another year [life is short ya know!].

It's similar to the Christmas classic "A visit from St. Nicholas" (aka "T'was the night before Christmas"). Like the last poem, I don't know the author of it... What I do
know is I posted in on my Facebook page and they were kind enough to remind me about it in my "memories." 

I actually did a very small version of this myself - see the picture on the right - but this is the entire poem done up in "Biker" style. So here it is:

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the garages, not a motorcycle was rumbling,
except for Santa Claus's.

The leather was hung in the closet with care in hopes that nice weather soon would be there. Our bikes were all nestled snug under their covers with visions of blacktop and burning up rubber.

With Momma in her bandana and I in my skull cap, we had just settled down for a long winters nap. When out on the lawn, arose such a rumble - I sprang from the bed and I started to grumble.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear? A pack of motorcycles, with riders in gear! With one old rider so lively and quick I knew in a moment it must be a biker named Nick.

He was dressed in Red Leather, from his head to his foot and his clothes were all tarnished with bugs and road soot. A bundle of chrome he had flung on his back - down the chimney he came, carrying a big red sack.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work. As he filled all the bike boots, then turned with a jerk, and laying a finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his bike, to his team gave a sign. They all cracked their throttles and got into a line. "Now Harley, now Honda, Now Triumph and Indian; on Kawi, on Suzuki, on Yamaha and Victory."

But I heard him exclaim as he roared out of sight:

"Keep the rubber side down and have a good ride!"

Monday, December 19, 2016

To Our Military Men & Women, active & retired: THANK YOU (not a big enough word)

Even though I've never served I understand better than most
L to R: My daughter, son & husband at my son's
graduation from Marine Corp Boot Camp, Nov. 2013
the sacrifices members of the U.S. Military Armed Forces make. I come from a military family: my father & half-brother both served as I was growing up. My husband served 18 years as an Army Infantryman, enduring six deployments - twice to both Afghanistan and Iraq, before he was medically discharged. And now my son is serving in the Marine Corp, currently deployed to Japan - his first Christmas not at home.

When I read this poem I immediately knew I had to share it here. It came to me from a friend of a friend of a friend, so I'm not sure who wrote it. But I have a feeling that the author would rather have our men & women of our military and their families remembered before s/he. 

A Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest, my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white, transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love, I would sleep,
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near, but I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear. Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear, 
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night, a lone figure stood his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old, 

perhaps a Marine, 
huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, 
he looked up and smiled, standing watch over me, 
and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!

Put down your pack; brush the snow from your sleeve-
you should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said "It’s really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line, that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore, I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before.
My Gramps died at Pearl on a day in December."
Then he sighed, 
"That's a Christmas Gram always remembers."

"My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures; he's sure got her smile." 

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag, the red, white, and blue... 
an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and 
the being alone, away from my family, 
my house and my home. 
I can stand at my post through the rain 
and the sleet, I can sleep in a foxhole 
with little to eat. 
I can carry the weight of killing another,
or lay down my life for my sister or brother,
who stand at the front against any and all.
To ensure for all time that 
this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "Harbor no fright. Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least? Give you money," I asked, "Or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
 for being 

away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret, "Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
to fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
to stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
that we mattered to you, as you mattered to us."

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cowboys & Indians - there is no a difference!

Those who know me could use the term "Harley Snob" to describe
me. I'm a person who slavishly admires the Harley-Davidson brand and can be condescending or overbearing to others. (But I'm definitely not this version.)

As a horse crazy kid growing up in the somewhat wild-west of Northern California back in the day (1970's), I always played the part of the cowboy, even though there is supposedly a small amount of Potawatomie blood in my veins. Tom Boy, always in the dirt, looking for trouble, never quitting, and my mom had a tough challenge getting me in a skirt or dress pretty well sums up my childhood. It was no real big surprise to anyone in my family that I became a fan of Harley-Davidson motorcycles from an early age as well.

"But there is this one motorcycle brand that gets my gears grinding practically every time I hear or see their commercial...."

This does not mean that I believe all other motorcycle brands are crap. Honestly! I still have friends that ride metric bikes and the occasional 
Spyder rider. And I will do a "Biker Wave" to all on two or three wheels.

Especially since FX Caprara Harley-Davidson also has Honda Motorcycles, Can-Am/BRP and Arctic Cat Snowmobiles & ATVS under our roof. (Side note: all manufacturers had to give their permission to do so, and each brand is clearly separated in it's own area.)

But there is this one motorcycle brand that gets my gears grinding practically every time I hear or see their commercial, and it's because of Indian's claim that they are "America's First Motorcycle Company." 

"I read it all the way through, but it's when I got down to the last two paragraphs that I was reminded about one simple thing...."

Even though they started in 1901 (whereas Harley-Davidson started in 1903), they actually closed the doors to their factory in 1953. Since then they've gone through six - count 'em! - SIX corporate successions, with Polaris Industries (who got their start in snowmobiles) being the most current.

Harley-Davidson is the oldest, continuously operated motorcycle manufacturer in America. Hands down. Period.

So, when I saw this blog titled: I can't let Dad sell his Softail about the author's dad asking him out to an Indian Demo Event, my blood pressure went up a notch. I mean, let the man sell his Harley for any other brand of motorcycle except for an Indian!

I read it all the way through, but it's when I got down to the last two paragraphs that I was reminded about one simple thing: 
It really doesn't matter what you ride; 
it only matters that you ride.

To all those who I may have offended in the past with my condescending attitude towards any motorcycle without a Bar & Shield, my sincerest apologies. I offer my 'Biker Wave' in peace and say, "Let's go Ride!"

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Saving Money on Insurance: Now vs. Later (Getting Real Serious Now - Part II)

"Get a quote in just 15 minutes or less."
"Save up to 50% with Motorcycle Insurance discounts..."
"Cheap Rates as low as $9 a month."

That's just the first three descriptions that came up when I googled "motorcycle insurance." Save, save, save. Save money now, and quickly too. Why would they want to do that?

Left: Tooter's Street Glide after the accident. Right: Tooter with Adam of #ScootinAmerica

"The NY State Trooper who responded to her accident showed up at the hospital and gave her a ticket for failing to signal!"

In Part I we talked about how states determine what class vehicle your motorcycle fits in. In New York motorcycles are considered recreational vehicles because we use them about six months out of the year. And because of that, motorcycle insurance is very different than auto insurance - what you're covered for in your car isn't automatically covered on your bike.

(I'll just remind everyone that I'm not an insurance agent or broker, nor am I an attorney of any type. I'm just someone who has seen a few things while working at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson.)

So, back to the question: Why are insurance companies in such a hurry to save you money? Shouldn't they be trying to save money themselves? After all they are a "for profit" industry that makes Billions in revenue every year (yes, Billions with a capitol "B").... How do they do that by saving you money on your insurance premiums?? Things that make you go, "hhhmmmmm....."

Of course any business wants to control their expenses as best they can so they can make money. And THE biggest expense for an insurance company is paying claims, so they'll want to keep those down by paying the least possible.

"But my insurance agent is a nice person! S/He always shows me ways to save and says I'm fully covered." Are you signing their paycheck? No! Plus, what exactly is their definition of "fully covered"?? Because if it's the bare minimum the state requires under the law, it isn't designed to help or protect you at all. Let's add in the fact that there is no law saying they have to disclose everything to you at point of sale (unlike a doctor, lawyer or real estate agent). 

Show and Tell Time: This my friend Diane - aka Tooter - from Minnesota. This is what her bike looks like now.... thanks to being rear-ended by a semi-truck on the interstate. She's been in hospital close to two months after getting a life-flight. She has a broken collar bone, had a collapsed lung, has a few rib fractures, a broken left leg, and a gash that nearly took her leg off completely. 

Tooter is on the mend, but it's been a long, slow road. She has had to endure numerous surgeries to try and close her leg wound -yeah, it's that deep. Intensive care round the clock. And now she's getting physical therapy while still in hospital. The goal of her doctors is to get her mostly healed so that she can get home and be under the care of her local doctor. There's still no idea as to when that'll be.
"motorcycle insurance is very different than auto insurance - what you're covered for in your car isn't automatically covered on your bike"
Since the accident, Tooter has received bills for her life-flight and has even gotten a letter from New York State. They said if they find any damages to the road that were from the truck hitting her they'll may send her a bill. Nice (not).

And all this is after the fact that the NY State Trooper who responded to her accident showed up at the hospital and gave her a ticket for failing to signal! Keep in mind the trooper didn't actually witness Tooter's accident - he's just basing the traffic violation on the word of the trucker who hit her.... Yeah, I'm sure he's going to be completely unbiased.

Recap: Biker hit from behind by a semi-truck. Trucker says Biker is at fault and Police give Biker the ticket. State says they might send her a bill for road damage. One Life-Flight, nearly two months of intensive, round-the-clock care, numerous surgeries and physical therapy visits later.... Bonus: Biker is hundreds of miles away from her home, work, family and friends. What's the real cost??

Fortunately, in addition to increasing the right parts of her motorcycle insurance policy, Tooter has already hired legal representation. However, that's going to cost money as well, and it's far from being over. For me and Tooter's other friends & family, we're just thankful she's still with us and on the road to recovery - that was a close one!

Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated!
Here's Tooter's Go Fund Me page ~ thank you so very much!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I write our E-Newsletters too!!

Did I mention that already?? Actually, writing FXCHD's E-Newsletters is just one of the reasons I started this blog! But then I get so busy creating content for our newsletters, I forget to write for Life Behind Bars!! So I'm going to try to remedy that.... Here it goes:

Here's the link to this week's E-News from FX Caprara Harley-Davidson. And in case you don't want to click there, then here's what I wrote:

Swinging into the Holiday Season
We really can't believe that Thanksgiving is next week already! Where does the time go?
A quick reminder that FX Caprara Harley-Davidson® will be closed Thanksgiving Dayso that our employees can celebrate the day with friends & family.
FXCHD will re-open on Black Friday, November 25th, at 9am. Sleep in and still get a good deal! This year we'll be saving you 25% on all in-stock, regularly priced Licensed Products throughout our dealership all day long. Plus take an extra 15% off items on our Licensed Products Clearance Rack.
And don't forget this year's Holiday Gift With Purchase: a beautiful (and collectible) Harley-Davidson® Memory Box while supplies last. This is only available in store - any online purchases won't qualify. 
We'll keep things rolling with FXCHD's Twelve Days of Badness. Every day starting Saturday, November 26th till December 7th we'll have one item on sale. Check our websiteFacebook or Twitter pages each day to see what the item is, or you can email Dawn and she'll give you the whole list.
Of course the ultimate gift is a Legendary Harley-Davidson® Motorcycle - the battery is included and no assembly required!! Right now Harley® has Extended the Factory Warrantyon new 2016 H-D® Motorcycles till April 1, 2019. Also Dan Carfi (our GM) got Americu to do 120 Days No Payment - see us for details.
So stop in and see us soon! We've got the coffee on!! And we're always happy to help you find the perfect gift for that special someone (or even yourself!)!

What I'm thinking of doing in the future is to write actual text in this blog, then put snippets of this blog in our e-news - that way you can click on what you wish to read more about and skip what you want.... What are your thoughts? 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Planning the Road Ahead

Bikers (aka Motorcycle Enthusiasts) are constantly scanning the road ahead looking for a myriad of challenges that we might have to negotiate when riding: loose dog, pot hole, gravel on the road, other drivers etc.

So it should come as no real big surprise that we usually do the same in our day-to-day life. "I'll leave for work 10 minutes early because they're supposed to start road construction today."  "I better get Bob those reports I know he needs at the end of the month." Those kind of things.

Of course we wouldn't be true Bikers if we weren't looking
forward to next year's riding season! The Watertown Chrome Divas have already started planning their 10th annual Ta-Ta Run, and - even though I stored my bike for winter at FXCHD - I think it would be fun to Ride Route 66 in August 2017.

Because we do all this planning & scanning ahead, we sometimes feel as if everyone should do it - is doing it, because it's such second nature to us. But clearly that wasn't the case because - in case you've somehow missed it - so many people have been stunned by the outcome of our Presidential Election (don't worry- this won't turn into another political blog, I promise!).

Going into this election I assume we all knew there would be a
loser as well as a winner - I mean, that's how the game is played people!! I had a plan in case the person I voted for didn't win (and if you want to see who I voted for you can check out my Twitter and/or Facebook accounts). 

My plan was to move into a quiet cottage in the Irish Countryside (my maiden name is McBride!) and live out my days. Sure I'd have to learn how to ride on the other side of the road.... but that should be easy!

However, on election day, I changed my plan. I'd decided that no matter who won the election I was going to stay in America, stay American. After all, this is where the greatest motorcycle manufacturer was started (I'm talking about Harley-Davidson of course!)!! And this is where the American Biker Culture that I love was born and continues today. 

Nope- just before I walked into my polling station, I pledged I would stay and help to heal the wounds of my country. Especially since many of us have realized our country was divided before the election - the vote just brought it all to a head.

So it is in that mind set that I look to a future for all Americans.
Working towards how we can learn to listen to each other so we're all heard. How we can come to appropriate compromises so the majority or those that need it most benefit. How we can all travel the same road in relative happiness. 

Look ahead. Embrace the future. Say & do good things - ALL of us. Besides us Bikers know that you've gotta #KeepMovingForward in order to balance on two wheels. 

And I'll just leave one of my fav Cat Stevens songs right here...
Two balance on two wheels you've gotta #KeepMovingForward

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Getting real serious now - Part 1

"It's better to have it and not need it
than to need it and not have it."

Sage advice that we've heard numerous times before. But thanks to Flo, Mayhem and that guy from Allstate, we sometimes get lulled into thinking it's better to 'cut back on insurance' and save... I'm just here to remind you that what you're saving on today is what your insurance company will probably save on later.... like when you have to file a claim. 

BTW: I'm not promoting one insurance company over the other, nor am I licensed to sell any type of insurance - these are just lessons I've learned on my own or through friends' experiences.

I talked briefly about motorcycle insurance earlier this year, however I've learned a lot more since then, so I'm going to cover all of what I know so far:
  • In New York, because of our short riding season, motorcycles
    are considered a recreational vehicle. That means what you're automatically covered with in your car may not be the same for your bike. Find out how your state clarifies your motorcycle.
  • Liability coverage is required by state law, however this type of coverage protects the other guy from damage or injury, not you. It is in your best interest to get 'optional' insurance coverage on your motorcycle policy.
Let me just pause here, because this is a BIG deal. The bare minimum, state required motorcycle insurance coverage is designed to protect the person you hit, not you. So, if the other person hits you, all you'll have is their insurance to pay for your damages and injuries. 

Now, follow along with me here, because chances are good that the driver who just hit you also has the bare minimum insurance coverage required by law - about 75% of drivers do - which is $25K bodily injury per person, $50K total bodily injury per accident (if you happen to have a passenger) in New York State. And no, you don't get to add those two amounts together.

Please THINK about that a minute!! Let's just say you're riding along when Nathan No-Look turns left in front of you (the most common motorcycle accident) and down you go. Your leg is badly broken, as well as a couple of ribs and wrist. All you can see of your bike is a pile of smoking metal. 

The paramedics arrive and call for a Life-Flight because you need emergency surgery - NOW. Of course you and your family members are wanting the EMT people to act quickly, plus you're in shock by this time, so no one is thinking of the cost that all this attention will add up to at the time it's happening. But don't worry, the insurance companies already have!

Anywho, the average cost of a Life-Flight is $15,000. "Well, I've got medical insurance, so I'm covered," you say. Think again. Most medical insurance policies cover life-flights at 50-60% (if the provider is in your network.... but you didn't think to ask that either), leaving you holding a $6000-$7500 or more bill.

Of course if the Life-Flight isn't covered by your health insurance, and you only have the liability coverage on your motorcycle insurance policy (which doesn't cover any medical costs for you!), then you can get stuck for the full cost of the Air Ambulance. At that point rates are usually calculated by the cost of jet fuel, type of aircraft, distance flown and staff on the flight, which can be anywhere between $2000-$50,000.

And that bill is just the beginning....
~continued in Part 2