Saturday, August 17, 2019

Forward Thinking Way Back When...

Last year saw a lot of firsts for me: my first new Harley, my first trip 'home' to Milwaukee, and my first week-long motorcycle adventure to celebrate 115 years of all that is Harley-Davidson.
This year will find me back to Wisconsin, my first solo trip by motorcycle, and my first Annual Dealer Meeting in Milwaukee. In fact this year marks the 100th Anniversary of Dealer Meetings.
First Convention Booklet Cover

Just before the annual motorcycle show in Chicago, the founding fathers invited dealers to Milwaukee -that was November 1919. In the years prior many dealers flocked to the factory, since it's close to Chicago, and conveyed what their customers wanted as well as to get technical training.
Dealers getting briefed on the 1936 EL, November 1935
The first ever National Dealer Convention was quite noteworthy!
"It was truly a successful event... from the standpoint of the dealers and those who troubled to pack their kits to come to Milwaukee, as well as from the standpoint of the promoters of the idea." ~Motorcycle and Bicycle IllustratedNov. 27, 1919 
A welcome as BIG as it gets!
Harley-Davidson recognized even back then that their dealerships are 'on the ground' with the customers, and were quick to listen to what they were saying.
Legendary "Dot" Robinson and a 1957 K Model
With that in mind, fast forward to today: What is it you'd like us at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson to convey to the MoCo for you??

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

5 Things You Do Not Need to Take on a Motorcycle Trip

Taking a long trip by motorcycle is a wonderous thing! No matter if you're going it alone or with a group of friends, you're going to have the time of your life.

Although you might be a seasoned traveler, successfully navigating through airports, TSA, flight delays and lost luggage, trekking by bike is something else all together. 
Photo by Harley-Davidson on Unsplash
I remember when I first started traveling by motorcycle, packing everything I could fit into my bag, straining it to the seams. Now, nearly 10 years later, I know exactly what I don't need to take with me. And they are:

1. Hair Dryer
Why? Because your hotel room will have one and space is a precious commodity on a motorcycle.

2. Towels
Again, your hotel room will have them and the more space you save the better. There's only one towel you need to bring, a small one - or better yet a travel chamois cloth - to wipe the morning dew off your bike. 

3. Books
You might be thinking you'll have time to read once you check into your hotel. And then you realize you just got to your destination -where are you going to eat dinner. Oh -and there's that live music you just found out about. Planning to read in the morning before check out? Remember that you'll be packing your stuff onto the bike... Unless it's your H.O.G. Touring Handbook, you're not going to have time to read it.
Photo by JJ Jordan on Unsplash
4. Clothing that doesn't do double duty
You'll want to bring a sweatshirt you can wear on cold days while riding and cooler temps at your location. Not that special cashmere sweater or silk blouse that cost over $100 and you plan on wearing only once. 

5. Too many shoes
This is a hard one for me! But I have to remember I really only need 3 pairs: my riding boots, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of flats. The temptation will be there, so just remember you're going to want to save as much space as possible. And also remember to put your socks and/or underwear inside your shoes -again, to save space.

I think it must have been a biker who came up with the phrase, "Less is More," because it is absolutely true on a motorcycle!
My 2018 Heritage all ready for our next adventure!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Going out doing what I love... My Passion

Call me crazy, but I have dreamed of my death. In my dream I'm old, probably in my 90s, laying in a bed surrounded by my children and their children. Which is all well and good, but that's not how I wish to depart this reality.

All of us will eventually shuffle off, leaving only the memory of us in the ones we love and who loved us.
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
Although, technically I'm not even supposed to be alive! As a child I was diagnosed with All Lymphatic Leukemia, and back in the early 70s the survival rate wasn't exactly the best. At one point the doctors told my father they needed to operate to remove the lymph nodes in my neck, and when he refused the doctors proclaimed I would die. "We are all going to die... No one gets out of this alive,"  was my dad's reply

Obviously I survived... they never did operate and a little while later I finally went into remission. That instilled the mantra into my head as I grew up: 
It doesn't matter how we die, only how we live.
Photo by Harley-Davidson on Unsplash
Last weekend, while I was in Alexandria Bay at the Thousand Islands River Run, I heard the news from New Hampshire. Word of the accident spread quickly through our biker community not only because we're somewhat close to the area (just a day ride), but also because we've got Fort Drum Army Post literally in our back yard (and most of the victims were former Marines). 

Going back to my youth again, growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 80s and 90s, I had quite a few friends pass away from a terminal illness that left their bodies weak and frail. For some it was all they could do just to sit up in bed. There was no way for them to do what they loved, even if that was just a walk in the park.

This past weekend there was also news from Hawaii: a plane carrying skydivers had gone down. In the news coverage, the girlfriend of one of the victims had said, "...he loved what he did and he died doing what he loved, so it was beautiful." 
Yes, both accidents were tragedies. And yes, both should never have happened. However, that is as much a part of the circle of life as life itself: birth, life, death, repeat.

And, if given the choice between a long suffering illness where my body and/or mind could betray me and I'm left virtually helpless, or a quick accident where I was doing something I enjoyed, I'd take the later. If at all possible, I'd like to go out doing what I love.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Bottoms Up!

The sun is out, the bike's are out of their winter storage... The new Riding Season has begun!!

The Biker Life is usually depicted in movies and television series as "Ride. Drink. Party. Repeat." And honestly, that's not too far from the truth. 

After all, one of the main reasons why we ride motorcycles to begin with: the Freedom it gives us as we fly along. That feeling that you can do anything!! The community, the family, and the freedom all rolled into one passion that bonds us together. A life on two-wheels.

So, when we get off the bike, we want to keep that feeling and the fun going. Most feel that a beer or two while on your lunch break, with your cheeseburger and fries, is ok... it's no big deal to then get back on the bike and finish the rest of the ride. More than a few times I've even heard the old joke, "You can't get better at drinking and riding without practice!" 

I myself have pushed the envelope more than once in this area. My reasoning was that I probably wasn't 'legally' intoxicated (which in NY means having a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08% or higher), so I was fine to ride or drive. 
I was sh*ttin' kittens folks!! Hands at 10 & 2, 
cruise control set at 55... the Whole. Way. Home.

And there was the last time I went to dinner with friends and drank A LOT of rum & cokes. I guessed I probably was over the legal limit, but I wasn't really that drunk... so I drove home anyways (my truck, not riding my bike -another calculation in my poor perception)... 

That was before I knew what I know now:

  • Alcohol affects a Rider's ability to "SEE" -the acronym we learned in our basic rider's course to Search ahead for potential hazards, Evaluate how much of a threat that hazard is, and Execute an action to avoid the hazard that could possible injure us.
  • Even with a BAC of 0.01%-0.04% your reaction time is slowed. And having a BAC of 0.05% increases your chance of getting in an accident by a factor of forty... Whoops!! Remember the scenario I started this blog off with? I'm drinking and riding with a group of friends... now the danger far outweighs any reward.
  • That New York State Law voids your PIP (Personal Injury Protection/no-fault) when you're driving your car while intoxicated and get in an accident. So any medical coverage is coming from your medical insurance... How much is your ER co-pay??
Of course, if you've been to any of the NNY H.O.G. Chapter's Annual Motorcycle Insurance Check-Ups (held every April at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson), you know that Motorcyclists do not fall under the no-fault rule while riding, and motorcycle insurance does not provide PIP coverage. You can get medical payments coverage, and when that runs out your medical insurance may pick up the balance... but again, how much is your co-pay??

What it all boils down to:
How much are you willing to risk?

"Oh, I know myself. I know how to handle a bike (or drive a car) - I've been doing it most of my life!" you say to yourself. "I know how much is 'too much' - I've got good judgement. I 'drank responsibly' as they've asked me to." 

But here's the thing: Yes, when you're sober, you have good judgement. But add alcohol to the mix and your judgement becomes impaired. You are less critical of your own actions. So your so-called good judgment is now bad judgement, and you're no longer in a place to make that judgement call.

Remember the time I knew I was legally intoxicated but choose to drive home anyways? Yeah... between Watertown and Natural Bridge (25 miles) I had either a Watertown Police Officer, a Jefferson County Sheriff or a NY State Trooper, right behind me for 23 of those 25 miles. I was sh*ttin' kittens the entire time folks!! Hands at 10 & 2, cruise control set at 55... the Whole. Way. Home. I was praying to who ever was listening, "If I can just get home safe I promise I'll never do this again!!"

I didn't want to have to pay one of those "DUI Guys" a large sum of money I didn't have in the first place. I didn't have the money for increased insurance payments. I didn't have the time off of work to appear in court, or to get counseling, or to go to jail. I didn't want to really be behind bars!!

Luckily for me I didn't get pulled over that night. My prayers were answered and I've kept my promise. 
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying you can't have any alcohol (or other things to get you impaired...). Drink up me hearties, yo-ho!! Drink to your heart's content. Drink till the cows come home. [Insert medical warning here.]

I've got DNA proof I'm Irish, so you can believe me when I say I enjoy my fair share of drinks. It's just that now I only drink at home when my bike (or car) is parked for the night. Or, when I'm out & about, I have a plan to get back safe -Uber, Lyft, Taxi or the Designated Driver. 

Please, enjoy your libations my Biker Family and non-riding friends alike! If that's your thing, then by all means, party-hearty. AND have a plan to get home safely and/or stay home.


Monday, April 22, 2019

17 Do's and Don'ts for your First Group Ride

Many Bikers who've been around the block a time or two have a routine down when it comes to going on a group ride. Most like to arrive early to meet up with old friends while making new ones. Others prefer to register for the ride first and plan where they'll be riding in the group.

If you're new to motorcycling or new to group riding, here's a list of "do's and don'ts" right from FXCHD. These tips are good to follow if you're riding with friends or on a larger charity ride.

DO start off the day with a full tank of gas. There's usually a gas station close to where the ride starts, so plan to fill up there. Nothing's worse than having the ride starting out and less than a mile into it you've got to signal you need gas.
DO get to know your group riding signals. Sure lots of riders have bike to bike communications, but not everybody! So it's useful to know how to use signals to communicate and understand.

DON'T forget to do a T-CLOCS inspection before even leaving the house. You'll be really embarrassed if a cop pulls you over because your tail lamp is out.

DO have water with you so you can stay hydrated as the day goes on.

DON'T be afraid to ask questions and speak up! If the person leading the ride isn't pointed out to you, ask who you're supposed to be following. If you know the route they're taking is tore up, let the group know ahead of time.

DO take lots of pictures if that's your thing. Not only will it help you to remember the fun you had that day, they also make great birthday or Christmas gifts later on.

DO ride up to the pumps and gas up when the group stops for gas. Only after filling up your fuel tank do you empty your bladder (unless it's an urgency) or grab a snack to eat. And, even if you think you don't need gas, fill up anyways because you never know.

DO ride your own ride (meaning ride with the group and reasonably stay within your comfort zone). The nice thing about riding in a group is you'll usually have more experienced riders that can tell you're ready to take your ride to the next level, so they might have you go through some twisties that you didn't think you could handle. That being said...

...DON'T be pushed too far beyond your riding abilities. Say you've never ridden on the interstate and the group is planning a 'turn and burn' out to Buffalo (speeding down the Thruway just to get there and then get back). If this is not your style then say so! Do not ride faster than your Guardian Angel can fly.

DO make your last phone calls, texts, tweets and Instagram, Facebook, etc. posts well before the ride starts.
DON'T be "that guy/gal" to be putting on your helmet, gloves, selecting your radio station or getting your earbuds in, etc while everyone is already ready to ride and they're waiting on you. When the Road Captain says to get ready to ride, that is not the time to start an in-depth conversation or perform a T-CLOCS inspection. Go grab your stuff, put it on and start your bike.

DO take your rain gear with you. Even if the Weather Wo/Man says there won't be any rain, you might still find a need for it. Waterproof = Wind-proof. If it's not raining you can put on your rainsuit to help block the wind and keep you warm.

DO be familiar and be comfortable riding in a staggered formation. Most groups do this, it's only when Bikers have been riding together for years that are confident to ride side-by-side.
DON'T miss the Ride Briefing -with most rides they'll have a small period before KSU (Kick Stands Up) where they'll go over who the Road Captains are, what riding signals they'll be using, how they plan on handling stop lights & heavy traffic intersections, what the route will be, and what the road conditions are (if there's construction going on, gravel down, etc.). Sure you'll see it on the ride, but it is nice to know about it before hand as well.

DO wait for other members of the group on a ride. Keep an eye on your rearview mirrors and let members in the group ahead of you know if others have fallen behind. This can happen on small group rides with friends that you'll run into this situation (most larger charity group rides will also have someone riding 'sweep'). Someone maybe got a flat tire, stalled out their bike, or ran out of gas... If you no longer see them in your rearview, signal to the others, pull over and wait for them to catch up. If you don't see them in a few minutes, chances are you'll probably have to double back and go see what's going on.

DON'T drink and ride, group ride or riding on your own. First of all, the ride really is intoxicating enough. Second, most groups don't allow any alcohol before or during the ride - it's just not safe and puts others at risk. Third, if you do have an accident the police and your insurance will insist on a full investigation, and if they find you're legally intoxicated you'll be in for fines, license suspension, possible jail time, and increased insurance premiums.

Last but not least: DO take the time to enjoy the ride and make new friends. After all, you know you already have one thing in common: riding motorcycles! This is your time to relax, have fun, see new sites and roads, and maybe even learn a new thing or two. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Getting Ready to Spring from Winter's Lock-Down!!

An early Spring was predicted by the Groundhog this year... but we're not feeling it up in Northern New York - at least not yet. Winter keeps stormin' back in as if to say, "And another thing!!"

That being said, while we're waiting for April Showers to wash the salt & sand off the roads, here's some things you can do now to prepare for the upcoming riding season from FX Caprara Harley-Davidson:

1) Dust Off Your Owner's Manual & Give it a Good Read

Take a break from your Spring Cleaning (you know you want to!) and do a read through. While we're giving you basic information here, you'll find specific information on YOUR bike -like tire pressure, load limits, security codes and more.

Can't find it your manual? You can find it online here.

2) It's been a while... Catch back up with your Bike

If you've stored your bike at home, hopefully you Properly Hibernated your bike. If not, it might not be too late: get out to the garage NOW and hook-up your bike to a Battery Tender, check your tire pressure and put a breathable cover on her.

Remember: your bike's battery & charging system are not the same as your car!! Your bike has to be under power (aka you need to be riding it) before the bike charges back to the battery. So just starting your bike and letting it sit and idle is actually doing way more harm than good. I covered this in FXCHD's #WhatsUpWednesday S1:E2 -catch it here on our YouTube Channel.

Now, if you usually store gasoline at home to fill up with, make sure you've put a fuel stabilizer in the can as well. Old fuel that hasn't been treated has probably lost its combustible properties, which will make any motor run rough.

Staying well rounded is also key - check your tire pressure! And while you're at it, check your tires for wear. Please, please, please don't try to squeeze extra miles on worn out tires - you only have two and they're pretty important to how your bike handles and the safety of your ride.

3) Going Mental... Mentally Preparing for the Ride

We've already started playing everybody's favorite game: "How
Deep Is That Pothole?" That, along with the salt & sand those wonderful plow trucks have left behind will be the things to watch out for.

Even though it is extremely hard, we at FXCHD highly recommend waiting until there has been at least two good rains to wash off the roads most of everything winter has given us.

If you do decide to ride your bike early, we won't report you for Harley abuse... but your bike will suffer and so will your trade-in value. (See our blog "5 Ways to Ruin Your Bike.")

4) To See or Not to See... it's usually the later

Those behind the wheel of cars & trucks (aka "cagers") haven't
seen a motorcycle on the road in months. And now that you're about to be riding your bike out and about, you must remember this!

"But of course they'll see me, I'm 'new' to them," you think. Think again.

These last 5-6 months drivers have been lulled into thinking motorcyclists don't exist. And the way our brains are wired, when motorists are looking for space to turn or merge, they see only the absence of a car and not the presence of a motorcycle. Don't believe me?? Check out this science experiment.

Wear appropriate riding gear, take anyone waiting to turn left in front of you as an immediate threat to your life, and constantly play the "What if?" game.

5) You've Lost that Riding Feeling... (I hate when that happens!)

The main reason drivers haven't seen motorcycles in the last few months is because we haven't been riding... (Thanks Captain Obvious!!)

And the old adage is true: If you don't use it, you loose it. Your riding skills were much sharper last September versus now.

There's a skill set when it comes to riding and to maintain that it takes practice, practice, practice. So, for your first ride of the year, we highly suggest you plan to ride over to the local school parking lot on the weekend (when there's likely to be less parked cars) and practice the basic stuff: slow turns & figure 8's to re-master your clutch/throttle, emergency braking and maneuvering drills.

You can always take an Advanced Rider's Course (sometimes
called the Basic Rider's Course 2) through your local MSF Riding Academy. There's no classroom time - all your learning is done using your motorcycle out on the riding range. They'll teach you about counter-balance, cornering, swerving and more. Added bonus: you'll probably get a discount on your auto & motorcycle insurance policy.

The other issue is that we are our own worst enemy in that we're too impatient. We are chomping at the bit to ride and that first fine Spring Day will have us like 🌞🌎💞😍!! But, in our eagerness to get out and ride, we decide not to take the time to put on all our gear... And we may neglect to re-assess our skills, getting into a corner way too hot. Patience is a virtue and it'll also keep you safe!!

It'll be a nice long riding season, unless you injure yourself and wreck your bike.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Be Your Own Cupid

Decide to Believe in Yourself more than anything else.

Cupid, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny - as a kid these magical creatures just showed up and gave us stuff.

Now, even though we've grown up, some still believe that somehow, someway someone will magically appear and give them just what they've been wishing for. That long lost, rich aunt leaving you a ton of money in her will. You've got THE winning lottery ticket. The one time that Nigerian e-mail scam is actually true. 
As the old saying goes: "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."
We at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson believe that YOU should be the maker and creator of your desires. Let go of the fear that's holding you back and take action to make your dreams come true. Love yourself, find inspiration in others and see the mistakes as lessons - soon enough your dreams will become your reality.

Step 1: Dress the Part

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles were made from dreams into reality over 100 years ago -dreams for a faster, easier way to get out to the fishin' hole. Use their achievement and their clothing to fuel your own dreams and build your legacy.

We've got new arrivals for Spring Fashion as well as good steals to be had on select end-of-season apparel.

Are you ready? Then let's start now - after all, we're all in this together. Come on over to FXCHD, Alysha, Krissi, Alyssa and myself will be happy to help.

°It all starts with the clothes